The protests and revolutions that have swept through the Middle East, have not left Palestine untouched. Youth in Palestine began their own movement, calling for an end to the internal divisions between Palestinian political factions. In their eyes, the power struggle between Hamas, which runs Gaza, and Fatah, which runs the West Bank, has worsened their hopes for a peaceful, prosperous future. On March 15, tens of thousands protested in Gaza and the West Bank. Recently their hopes were realized when Fatah and Hamas signed a reconcilliation accord. However, the reconcilliation between these groups remains fragile and acceptance of the unity government by the US and other members of the international community is important if the agreement is to hold.
Here Tamir Aljaru, 25, from Gaza, Palestine shares his perspective on recent events and on the need for Palestinian unity.
Tunisia began the wave of change, or “tsunami” if I can call it that, and it soon spread to Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, etc. Youth, the so called “Facebook generation”, have been the key group in all these events. It is important to note that a majority of engaged youth are not religiously motivated nor are they members of any political parties. For the most part their protests have been peaceful and are led by rational, intellectual youths who are knowledgeable enough to make and lead change.
Their motivation was anger and frustration aimed at the ruling regimes which have ignored the people’s demands for too long. They have ignored their demands for more freedoms – the freedom to talk, write, act, move, and make choices for themselves. They demanded social justice, seeking a better future free from corrupt and tyrannical regimes.
As a youth standing witness to these recent events I have gained great hope that these peaceful revolutions and the changes occurring across the region may also positively impact us in Palestine. For four years Palestinians have suffered due to a division between the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas. Their different views regarding the management of our struggle against the Israeli occupation has divided the Palestinian land and people. We have become like two separate countries: Gaza ruled by Hamas and the West bank ruled by Fatah. This division has brought nothing but disasters to us and to the whole Palestinian cause. It has negatively impacted all aspects of life – political life, economic life, and social life.
Frustrated Palestinian youth, witnessing all of these movements across the Arab world and their successes and impact, decided that it was time to act and to take steps to end the Palestinian division. As a result, the 15th of March Palestinian youth movement was born. Their main slogan - “We Want to End the Division.”
Like youth in other countries, Palestinian youth have relied heavily on social media platforms to plan efforts to end the division. It was used to coordinate protests and demonstrations that kicked off across both Gaza and the West Bank on March 15.
Before this I never participated in protests, but I have been so enthusiastic. I decided to participate in order to have a say regarding what is happening around me. It is the duty of every Palestinian now, young or old, to stand up and say “enough.”
I didn’t participate because I’m with one party over another. I participated because I am fed up with this situation and because I believe that this is our only opportunity to make a change. I participated because I want us to be one country and one people. I want to raise my head again and say proudly that I am a Palestinian. I participated because I simply love my country and I want to live, for once, in peace like all other nations.
We might succeed and we might not. It depends on how long we can stand and on the rationality of those who are in power. It depends on whether they have learned lessons from our neighbors. It is going to take some time for us to be heard, but this is just the beginning. Every letter of the story will be written by us and I sincerely hope that the end of the story will be as strong and as great as the beginning.