There are 40,000 to 50,000 individuals currently living in the Gaza Strip without ID cards recognized by Israel, and they have no official status anywhere else in the world. Some of them were born in the Gaza Strip but were never recognized as residents by Israel; some fled the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war, or left Gaza for various reasons after 1967 and returned later. A small number of these individuals were born in the Gaza Strip and have never left it, but do not have ID cards for various reasons. Other stateless individuals in the Gaza Strip are Palestinians from abroad who married Gaza residents, entered Gaza with visitor permits and remained after their permits expired.
Individuals who live in the Gaza Strip without status and without an ID card or a passport of any country find it difficult to lead normal lives. They cannot leave the Gaza Strip for any reason, including studies, work, visiting family or pilgrimage to Mecca (al-Hajj). They cannot hold down jobs that require travel outside the Gaza Strip. Any stateless individuals in need of medical treatment not available in the Gaza Strip cannot go to Egypt to receive treatment and very rarely do they receive permission to enter Israel for this purpose. All of this is compounded by the constant overall sense of insecurity experienced by people who have no official status. This feeling is linked, among other things, to fear of an Israeli incursion into Gaza which may result in their deportation.
On what planet must Israel be responsible for the IDs of Hamas-ruled Gaza Arabs? Should it also provide certificates of competence in rocket launching?
Gaza is ruled by a gang whose basic premise is that genocide is good, and which has built up a huge stockpile of rockets to shoot at Israeli civilians when it’s ready for the next round.
The status of Gaza is ‘interesting’ from a legal point of view, but it’s hard to make a case that it is occupied by Israel. For one thing, no Israelis, military, civilian or even dead bodies (which were disinterred when Israel withdrew in 2005) are in it.
Yes, Israel controls its own border with Gaza (but not Gaza’s Egyptian border) and out of necessity blockades its waters and controls its airspace. That isn’t ‘occupation’, it’s self-defense. Issuing ID cards is exactly what an occupier might do, which is one reason Israel isn’t doing it.
Gaza was invaded and occupied by Egypt in 1948, which ruled it in a brutal and exploitative manner. When Israel gained control in 1967, it tried to ameliorate some of the truly awful conditions, particularly for the refugees living in camps there, but in many cases was stymied by the UN and the PLO, which wanted the refugees as miserable and angry as possible.
Palestinian voters elected a Hamas-led government in 2003, but the PLO did not allow it to take office because the Western donor nations that keep the Palestinian Authority alive refused to fund the frankly terrorist Hamas. Then in 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza from the PA in a bloody military coup.
Israel, by the way, still provides water and electricity to Gaza, which recycles it in the form of rockets and mortar shells. Some years ago, a Hamas sniper shot and wounded an Israeli Electric company employee working on a tower near the border. The irony was palpable, but the electricity continued to flow.
B’tselem, a radical Israeli NGO funded by the New Israel Fund, the EU and individual European states, wishes to keep up the pretense that Gaza is ‘occupied’ so that it can make Israel responsible for everything that happens to its residents. And of course also so it can blame Israel whenever the terrorism emanating from Gaza reaches a point that it has to hit back — as it did after Israel’s 2008-9 campaign against Hamas. B’tselem was the single largest contributor of the (almost entirely false) accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’ that appeared in the tendentious Goldstone Report.
So why doesn’t Hamas, which actually can claim to be the legitimately elected government of the Gaza Strip — after all, the PA did overrule a popular election and the coup simply reversed that — issue its own ID cards? Ask B’tselem:
In an attempt to resolve the plight of stateless individuals in the Gaza Strip, in January 2008, the Hamas government began issuing temporary internal ID cards to Gaza residents who are not listed in the Population Registry. This measure was implemented in order to help these individuals in leading their daily life within the Gaza Strip and enable them to do things like open a bank account, enroll children in school or acquire medical insurance. According to figures collected by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza, there are currently about 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza who hold these temporary ID cards. However, these cards are not valid at the crossings into Israel or at the Rafah border crossing to Egypt, currently managed by Hamas and Egypt.
In other words, Hamas IDs can’t be used to permit terrorists to cross into Israel or Egypt (since the overthrow of Morsi, Hamas has been skirmishing with the Egyptian army). Are you surprised?
It is long past time for the everyone to realize that the ‘plight’ of the Palestinian Arabs is entirely the making of their own leadership — al-Husseini, Arafat and Abbas, and also Hamas and other even more radical factions — as well as the leaders of the rest of the Arab world. And even the Palestinian Arabs themselves, who have overwhelmingly voted for the PLO and Hamas when given a chance, have shown that they support the rejectionist position that prioritizes the destruction of Israel over the welfare and even the lives of Palestinian Arabs.