Refugees twice over
I saw a piece on al-Jazeera which showed a glittering cloud of notices being dropped into Rafah City. The notices looked like silver confetti shimmering down out of a blue sky. But far from being glad tidings, they were warnings, instructing the residents of Rafah to flee for their lives as Israel was planning attacks upon the town.
Of some 130,000 people living in Rafah, 65% are already refugees, having fled their homes in Ashkelon or Beersheba and other towns that are now part of Israel proper. One wonders how these people must feel -- they fled before, expecting to return, only to find they were barred from going back to their homes. If they flee now, will they be able to return? Or will the be shunted into some other refugee camp somewhere else, losing yet again their home. Or, equally bad, will they return only to find rubble.
Someone posted a comment on this blog a few days ago that they should just move. It wasn't really clear if the "they" meant Israelis or Palestinians. In the case of the Israelis, that is an option and I'm sure many have done so. In the case of the Palestinians... it isn't so easy. Unemployment is at record highs. And the average wage of Palestinian workers amounts to $2 a day. How then, are they supposed to move? Carrying their posessions on their back, and walking? They obviously can't afford an airplane ticket to, say, the US, even if the US would take them, which as often as not they won't. We certainly wouldn't take all 130,000 of Rafah's residents, or the 1.5 million who are living in Gaza. And no one else will either.
Unless Israel is prepared to wipe out 1.5 million Palestinians (and we can assume they are not), they need to buckle down and work with the Gazans to come to some sort of arrangement which makes life livable in the strip.