- by Kathy Bergen
Listen to 'Gaza: New Dynamics, Future Prospects', by Dr. Sara Roy online
With unemployment hovering at around 60 percent, Roy was told that many Gazans attempt to cross the border fence between Gaza and Israel to seek work, or to be arrested. If they are arrested they will be assured three meals a day and fresh water to drink.
In their desperation, many Gazans have once again become boat people, risking their lives at sea to escape the enclave. Roy reported that it is the first time this phenomenon has resurfaced since 1948. In fact, she said, human smuggling is becoming a significant part of the coastal strip’s economy. Palestinians feel they have nothing to lose. When asked if they are afraid of drowning, they say: We are drowning here too. Homelessness, created by the three wars since 2008, and 2014’s Operation Protective Edge (OPE) in particular, will take years to resolve. By September of this year only about 6.7 percent of the funds promised by the international community to rebuild Gaza has been received.
The Palestinian family, a strong institution that has been able to weather occupation, has suffered immensely since OPE. Family members are physically separated, living in different households that are already cramped. Domestic violence, gender violence, and violence against children has increased due to social and economic pressures. Some children are becoming heads of households. Suicide is on the rise—by hanging, the ingesting of pesticides, immolation, the use of fire arms and drug overdoses. Prostitution, anathema in Palestinian society, is present. In her lecture, Sara asked - how does the destruction of Gaza enhance Israel’s security?
Gazans are broke financially, emotionally, and psychologically. Many no longer believe in any kind of future. But they still imagine it. "If change is to come," Roy asserted, "the world must embrace that imagining".
Dr. Sara Roy received her doctorate at Harvard University. She is currently a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies specializing in the Palestinian economy, Palestinian Islamism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the daughter of two holocaust survivors.
Dr. Roy began her research in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 1985 with a focus on the economic, social and political development of the Gaza Strip and on U.S. foreign assistance to the region. Since then she has written extensively on the Palestinian economy, particularly in Gaza, and on Gaza’s de-development, a concept she defined.