Palestinians Fear a New Exodus as US Prepares for Mass Displacement from Gaza
The Biden administration has requested $100 billion from Congress for foreign aid, including money for Israel, Ukraine and the “potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries” amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The request, which was made on October 20, has drawn criticism from Palestinian leaders and activists, who see it as a tacit approval of Israel’s aggression and oppression against Gaza‘s population. They accuse the US of preparing for a mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, which they liken to a “new Nakba” or catastrophe.
The Nakba refers to the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands in 1948, when Israel was created. Many of them ended up in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring countries, where they still live today without basic rights or citizenship.
The US request comes as Israel has intensified its bombing campaign on Gaza, killing more than 2,400 people, mostly civilians, and injuring over 9,000 since October 7. Israel claims that it is acting in self-defense against Hamas, which launched more than 4,000 rockets at Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking hundreds of hostages in its initial raid.
A Humanitarian Crisis
Israel has also cut off food, water and electricity to Gaza, creating a humanitarian crisis for its 2.3 million inhabitants. Israel has also warned civilians to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in the south of Gaza, saying that anyone who stayed behind would be considered “a partner in a terrorist organization”.
The US request states that the funding would provide “life-saving humanitarian assistance” to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as to address the “potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries”. It says that the money could be used for food, health care, shelter, water, sanitation and protection.
However, Palestinian officials and experts say that the US request is unrealistic and insensitive, as it ignores the fact that Gaza is under a tight Israeli blockade that prevents people from leaving or entering the territory. They also say that neighboring countries such as Egypt and Jordan are unlikely to accept more Palestinian refugees, given their own political and economic challenges.
They argue that the US request is actually a way of facilitating Israel’s plan to empty Gaza of its population and annex more Palestinian land. They say that the US should instead pressure Israel to stop its attacks and lift its siege on Gaza. They also demand that the US support a political solution that respects the rights and aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis.
The US request has also been met with skepticism by some Israeli analysts, who doubt that it will pass Congress or have any impact on the ground. They say that the US request is mainly a symbolic gesture to show concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, while maintaining its unwavering support for Israel’s security.