PNGO Youth sector calls for lifting the Israel-imposed blockade of Gaza and beating challenges, faced by Gaza youth  


Representatives of various youth local society organizations, along with academic dignitaries and experts, called for setting up a national agenda for youth in Gaza that guarantees their effective participation in political, economic and social decision-making.

The call came during a workshop, organized last week in Gaza city, by the youth sector within the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO).

Youth participants and other attendees, agreed that amidst current hard circumstances in Gaza at almost all levels, youth should be given a broader scope for development in a way that would improve their conditions and enable them to encounter a heap of challenges, especially in terms of engaging youth in decision-making, economy and community-based life.

They urged the international community to seriously move to help halt all forms of Israeli occupation's violations and lifting the Israel-imposed siege of Gaza. According to them, those challenges can be defied by means of youth empowerment at the economic and political levels, mainly decision-making and leadership.

The workshop was titled “Reality of youth, 15 years after the imposition of Israeli blockade” as a part of “Enhance Democracy and Capacities Development of the Civil Society role, in partnership with the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).  

Coordinator of PNGO's youth sector, Yasin Abu Auda, said in an opening speech that youth are considered a core stone in community-based development and that providing them with needed support would enrich their skills and build up their capacities, in the face of long-time isolation of the Gaza Strip, by the Israeli occupation.  

Auda added that the past fifteen years have seen a crippling Israeli blockade of the coastal region, along with repressive/ruthless Israeli measures at all levels, especially for youth.

He made clear that those measures have highly restricted movement of Palestinian youth to and from the Gaza Strip, especially movement of students, who are enrolled at universities and academic institutions, outside of Gaza, as well those in need of medical referral to hospitals in the West Bank.

The PNGO's youth sector coordinator also noted that the Gaza Strip has increasingly become an unlivable place, due to the Israel-imposed siege, which is considered to be a violation of the International humanitarian law, as well as a form of collective punishment that is prohibited worldwide.

From his part, local Palestinian lawyer, Basem Abu Jray of the Gaza-based Palestinian Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, pointed out that there have been many serious ramifications for the Israel-imposed siege of Gaza, especially for the youth category in Gaza.

"According to the international law, Gaza is an area under occupation, since the Israeli occupation still grips tight control over Gaza's land and sea crossings, Gaza's airspace, as well as maintain the population registry in Gaza, control the Palestinian frequency spectrum, and many aspects of life. Such an Israeli occupation's control over Gaza has terribly badly impacted all aspects of life, across the territory", Abu Jray explained.

Abu Jray believed that international law clearly requires an occupation state to ensure protection and good living for a civilian population. In Abu Jray's opinion, Israeli actions over the past fifteen years, have rendered the civilian Palestinian population with no basic civilian rights including respect of freedom of movement and the right to good living.


Abu Jray added that since 2007, Israeli occupation authorities have imposed a series of restrictive measures on movement of both people and goods, turning the Gaza Strip into a closed isolated zone at the geographical level, within what Abu Jray believed to be an apartheid regime of Israel that is quite similar to the apartheid regime of South Africa, some decades ago. 

Lawyer Abu Jray highlighted some statistical figures, explaining the amount of suffering, endured by local Palestinian youth in Gaza. Among those figures are:  %75 of Gaza's university graduates are jobless, %47 of the labor force are unemployed, %53 of the entire population live under poverty line, while %64 of the same population suffer from food insecurity.


He pointed out that youth with disabilities in Gaza   continue to suffer from isolation and negligence in which the current bad economic conditions in Gaza have forced thousands of youth to opt for immigration, in their endeavor for living conditions, outside of the region depriving the society of human resources, including qualified people and manpower.

In his paperwork, economic development expert, Dr. Raed Helles said that Israeli occupation-imposed restrictions have caused some catastrophic economic hardships, mainly halt of local production by local industrial facilities, leading to a widespread unemployment.  

Helles also noted that other vital sectors in Gaza such as agriculture and commerce have been badly affected by those occupation restrictive measures, within the Israel-enforced blockade.

Furthermore, Helles pointed out that frequent Israeli occupation attacks on Gaza, along with the siege and the internal Palestinian political division, have all badly impacted economic conditions, especially for youth, as tens of thousands of them are now jobless, while %37 of the total number of youth in Gaza, have wanted to leave the coastal territory to seek a better living.

Wrapping up the workshop, all participants agreed that there needs to be some genuine mechanisms and strategies by all concerned parties for the sake of improving youth circumstances. Among those mechanisms is resorting to international legal institutions for the best of lifting the Israel-imposed siege of Gaza and pressuring the Israeli occupation's government to allow free movement of both people and goods to and from the coastal enclave, as well halting all forms of Israeli military attacks on the enclave and

to provide economic support through creating job opportunities for youth, to fight unemployment problem.

Participants also demanded Palestinian decision-makers to show responsibility towards youth-related issues and problems, by means of political unity and concentrated joint efforts to lift the Israel-enforced blockade.

On this note, they further demanded decision-makers to involve youth in the political and democratic processes, noting that youth have the potential for such contributions.

Eventually, they emphasized on what they believed to be a significant role by various local civil society organizations, in terms of building youth capacities, starting from studies addressing youth-related problems and concerns, through meeting youth's developmental needs. 





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