Why Palestinians are aggrieved by the Arab Spring
Palestinians living in Damascus wait outside a bank to collect financial aid donated by the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency, in Damascus on September 17, 2013. © Anwar Amro - AFP/File
Why Palestinians are aggrieved by the Arab Spring
Last updated: January 10, 2014
Why Palestinians are aggrieved by the Arab Spring

“What did the Arab Spring bring to Palestinians? Nothing but more pain, suffering and diaspora”

Banner Icon For the Palestinians, the Arab Spring brought more malaise, more tightened blockade, severe poverty, and more hatred towards them, writes Abdalhadi Alijla.

Reading about the murder of Hassan Hassan, the Palestinian actor and comedian, in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria was like a bombshell. Hassan and his wife were arrested by Syrian regime forces three months ago; his wife and son were released two days later. He was believed to be detained when recently his family received word that he had died on October 15.

The tragic story of Hassan, the Palestinian youth, depicts the distressed situation of the Palestinians caused by the so-called Arab Spring. Since the first sparks three years ago, it has failed to show any features of real revolution. Just look at Egypt today.

For the Palestinians, the Arab Spring brought more malaise, more tightened blockade, severe poverty, and more hatred towards them.

"This is a striking reminder for the price the Palestinian had to pay in the second Gulf war when Arafat allied himself with Saddam Hussein"

As other Arabs are engaged by their uprisings, the Palestinians are alone in their struggle against the Israeli occupation. There are serious plans for judaising Jerusalem – in fact they are already being implemented on the ground. The Palestinian Authority is under pressure imposed by the US and the EU to accept an agreement that is far from respecting the minimal demands of the Palestinians. Many Fatah and Hamas leaders agree that the Arab Spring has negatively affected the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian division has been deepened and neglected by Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. After Mohamed Morsi was elected, Hamas refused all efforts to end the Palestinian rift. The Arab Spring in Egypt blocked efforts for Palestinian unity and increased the arrogance of Hamas’s elite. An offshoot of the Muslim Brothers and a proxy for Iran, Morsi in power gave Hamas more strength and confidence. However, after the MB was ousted, tension with the Egyptian military has grown and the tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip have mostly been destroyed.

The Egyptian military performed incursions across the borders with the Gaza Strip to send a message to the Hamas leadership not to intervene in Egyptian internal affairs regarding the MB.

Ominous air is currently threatening Gaza, the West Bank and the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon as well as Palestinians living and studying in Egypt. Palestinian groups in Syria reported that until September 2013 more than 16,000 Palestinians were killed, hundreds of thousands were forced to leave the refugee camps, and hundreds drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The refugee camps are not liveable anymore, completely destroyed and more likely to become ghost cities.

Leaked official reports revealed the brutal and inhuman treatment of Palestinians in Cairo Airport and the Rafah crossing. Gazans and Syrians are not allowed to enter Egypt, although it is their only access and exit point to the world. The Egyptian government continue to use deportation policies, in the locked rooms, where living conditions are unbearable and dehumanizing.

This is a striking reminder for the price the Palestinian had to pay in the second Gulf war when Arafat allied himself with Saddam Hussein.

The Palestinians are highly influenced by the surrounding political climate, causing them – amongst other things – to be divided regarding the nature of the Arab Spring. According to a recent opinion poll completed by MIFTAH center in the Palestinian territories, 55% of the youth in the West Bank and 60% of in the Gaza Strip believe the Arab Spring and the regional changes are negatively impacting Palestine.

Pessimism takes over the scene when connecting the Arab Spring with the Palestinian question. The pro-Palestinian rhetoric is fading. And again, what did the Arab Spring bring to Palestinians? Nothing but more pain, suffering and diaspora.

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