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The forgotten victims of Gaza

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Shuja’iyah, Mohammad AbudlKarim Al-Qassass’s neighborhood in Gaza

Palestinians leave home looking for basic rights, including security and stability, but face consistent obstacles abroad, including rejection due to their identity. During times of war, Palestinians struggle to find opportunity, while watching the Israel’s violence and oppression from afar.  This is the story of only one such Palestinian.

Mohammad’s Story

Mohammad is a 27 year old lawyer from the Shuja’ieh neighborhood of Gaza, a neighborhood that suffered a massacre on the dawn of July 20th that left over 70 Palestinians dead.  He describes Gaza as a beautiful land of over 1.7 million inhabitants, according to UN figures.  Over the years, people of Gaza have become one united family, enduring sanctions, continuous Israeli oppression, and war. To the people of Gaza, every death is a loss of their own and pain beyond words.

Mohammad studied law in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a scholarship, graduating at the top of his class. He hoped to find opportunities for work to build a life in Gaza after returning home, but found little hope for stability in the crippled economy.

Mohammad left Gaza in the early months of 2014 intending to work in Amman, Jordan. After sitting in Cairo’s airport for a couple of months awaiting his visa for Jordan, he arrived in Amman and spent three months working in a Jordanian law firm without a salary.  In early June, Mohammad’s visa expired and the law firm refused to apply for a work visa for him. He was forced to return home to Gaza.  He flew to Cairo in order to head on to the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, but it was closed.  After spending seven days waiting for Egypt to open the border, he was not able to enter Gaza. Mohammad attempted to cross into Egypt, but Egyptian authorities denied him entry.  He was sent back to Amman, the city from which he flew into Cairo, and was denied entry and Jordan would not grant him a visa.

Mohammad was advised to leave Jordan immediately and flew to Dubai intending to enter the UAE. Once again, he was denied entry in the country since he had no visa. After spending 20 days in Dubai’s airport without any money, a personal contact applied for a tourist visa for him through a Dubai company.  He was able to leave the airport and remain in the country for only 30 days. Again, he had no money for even the basics and an undetermined future.

Mohammad spent the month of Ramadan living among migrant workers in Ras Al-Khaimmeh.   During the past month, Mohammad worked with a contact to apply for a work visa. A Dubai-based trading company offered Mohammad a legal consultant job and applied for his work visa only to be denied. Reasons for the denial: Palestinian citizenship.

A Common Palestinian Story

Mohammad’s story is a tragic story with an unknown ending. A story of a young man trying to find stability and security in his life, yet finding only obstacles in his way due to his Palestinian identity. It is even more heartbreaking during a time of war.  He is one example of those forgotten victims of Israeli’s oppression and occupation of Palestine and its people. Palestinians belong to a country that is unrecognized by some in the international community, an occupied land. Often, Palestinians are consistently rejected from one country to another.

Over this past week, I heard Mohammad’s story and quickly shared it with a strong network of friends across Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, mostly Palestinian diaspora. None of us were shocked to hear his story. Everyone was eager to help Mohammad find stability, and worked to raise funds to help support his transition while connecting him with people in the UAE for a job or even just a better place to sleep.

Many forgotten victims, like Mohammad, of Operation Protective Edge are not in Gaza.  Mohammad watches from afar as Gaza is destroyed and the streets of his childhood memories are massacred. He watches the ongoing massacre in Gaza by Israeli Forces and is in contact with friends and family in Gaza.  As a son of Gaza, Mohammad’s connection to its people and the land he calls home only leaves him with anger, pain and frustration as he continues to hear the atrocities imposed by Israel and the civilian casualties, including children who have never had a chance to live.  Mohammad left his home and family earlier this year not knowing that he was not to return home and never see some family members again. Operation Protective Edge took many of his family and friends, including young children.

As Mohammad tries to figure out a future for himself, his frustrations grow by the day: “I just want my rights as a human!” “How can be a lawyer and defend people’s rights if I do not have rights of my own?” Mohammad wonders what his future will look like in a month.  He asks what crime has he committed to face this rejection by other countries. He only wants a chance to live.

Alaa Odeh
About Alaa' Odeh

Alaa’ Odeh is based in Washington, DC based and is founder and CEO of HADAF: From Passion to Progress, a non-profit focused on cultivating social and economic development in underserved areas in the Middle East and North Africa by way of entrepreneurship and innovation. She is currently working on several projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Her twitter handle is @alaaodeh05

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12 Responses

  1. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz on August 6, 2014, 4:22 pm

    My God, this is horrendous. I don’t have words. It’s like living while Palestinian is the crime in itself. Reading about things like that makes me want to hit something, hard.
    On one hand I understand that other Arab countries do not wish assist Israel in ethnic cleansing, so they are extremely careful in not providing Palestinians with a new residence.

    On the other hand Israel’s intransigence is taking a tragic human toll. Palestinians are in limbo. They don’t have their own country. They are not provided with rights by the occupier. This suits Israel very well, is it slows down the pollution of the master race with a lesser breeds of humans, infesting eretz Israel.

    • just
      just on August 6, 2014, 5:09 pm

      I had to take another break after I read this…otherwise I would have posted a comment that would not pass moderation……

      Israel and it’s enablers have done this terrible thing to millions of humans. They’ve over and over again denied them their human rights and their lives.

      We have to fight for justice for Mohammed (and the millions of our Palestinian brothers, sisters. mothers, fathers, cousins, grandparents and children in solidarity) that have been denied it for far too long.

      • seafoid
        seafoid on August 7, 2014, 11:31 am

        They have to educate their kids to run this system, No such thing as a free lunch. And as Keynes might have said to Hophmi, Israeli liberal democracy is a very thin reed against which to lean given the context.

  2. Kay24
    Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 6:03 pm

    This so sad. Every human being has the right to be free and not suffer to simply do the right thing like Mohammed has experienced. The Israelis have made it so difficult for these poor people who happened to be Palestinians. If this is not collective punishment, hatred, and racism against Arabs. They are deliberately made to suffer like this, unable to get out of the hell Israel created for them, and suffering because they are unable to progress and be productive. Israel is such a vicious, brutal nation, and resorts to human rights violations because they have the sponsorship of the US.

    • Citizen
      Citizen on August 7, 2014, 9:03 am

      And Palestinians who are resistance fighters get to be called “barbaric” by Mister Obama. They don’t even get the right of self-defense so lavishly spent on Israel by our POTUS. Could one get more cynical?

  3. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby on August 7, 2014, 5:38 am

    But puppet Abbas dont care, he refuse be a member of ICC which mean they cannot do anything.

  4. 4LibertynJustice
    4LibertynJustice on August 7, 2014, 5:56 am

    “On one hand I understand that other Arab countries do not wish assist Israel in ethnic cleansing, so they are extremely careful in not providing Palestinians with a new residence”

    I do not understand your logic, how would anyone be assisting Israel in ethnic cleansing by helping Palestinians like Mohammad and giving them residence? I would say the opposite that by turning him away like they did they are assisting Israel in the ethnic cleansing….

  5. Boomer
    Boomer on August 7, 2014, 9:45 am

    Yes, based on the coverage I saw this morning on NBC and CBS, I would say that the U.S. networks have moved on. Only fresh victims are shown here. So yes, most likely the victims will be forgotten in mainstream U.S. media. During the inhumane attacks Mr. Obama backed Israel, gave it more weapons and rhetorical cover, and did not take the opportunity to make a change. That was tragic, but not surprising. He has a history of doing that, not only with Israel, but also on other issues. The financial crisis he inherited could have been an opportunity for fundamental change regarding Wall Street: for undoing some of the deregulatory mistakes of the previous generation. Instead, we got minimal patches. Likewise, no investigation much less accountability for the Iraq war, for infringement on civil liberties by the security state, etc. I suspect that many members of Congress and other elites who toe AIPAC’s line out of fear would have welcomed some candor on his part. But we can’t hope for that now. Nor can the victims in Gaza. They will get some crumbs.

    • Boomer
      Boomer on August 7, 2014, 6:57 pm

      PS: Having just watched the NBC and CBS evening news coverage, I should amend my comment posted this morning to note that CBS has not entirely moved on. They did show the victims in Gaza again tonight, though there was an attempt at balance (I suppose) by showing the plight of Israeli children forced to play indoors, near the bomb shelters. The reporter did observe, however, the disparity in conditions.

    • seafoid
      seafoid on August 7, 2014, 11:29 am

      And in the desert Moses told the people that god was with them. And Pharoah did airdrop leaflets asking why they were whining since it was far worse in Parthia.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid on August 7, 2014, 11:26 am

    That is the price of a jewish state in the middle east. And it makes a mockery of the mitzvot. If you could have a state would you sell your morality for it? And they said yes.

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