THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – BY Jasmin Rasheed — In the Gaza Strip, youths aged 15-29 constitute a large part of society, representing 35% of all residents. Young people are an important source of creativity and power. They are the future and the strategic reserve of all nations in times of crisis and war.
The young men and women of the Gaza Strip, however, face challenges and difficult conditions in all aspects of life. Their reality is unimaginably different from that of the youth of any other country in terms of internal pressures, frustration, despair, unemployment, and isolation.
The Palestinian youth live in a difficult and painful reality. Whatever the reasons, the young people of the Gaza Strip should not be the ones who bear the brunt of these hardships and live such insufferable lives. This is especially sad because the Gazan youth have played such an important and fundamental role in the first and second Intifada, fighting and making sacrifices throughout the history of the Palestinian revolt in ways that the youth of other countries can never know.
The growing unemployment problem is one of the most important hardships that destroy the lives of the Palestinian youth. As it reached 60%, unemployment has led to an increase in Palestinian families living under the poverty line. Palestine’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, and the unemployed youth receive no real aid from the government.
It is every person’s right to find work opportunities. Working is a natural right protected by international law, since it is the basis for a normal life – renting or buying a home, getting married, and raising a family. If being able to work is the key to a normal life, then a person unemployed against his or her will feels dead.
Unemployment leads to excessive emigration, theft, crime, and extremism – a bevy of undesired effects and problems that explode in the face of society. Thus, unemployment is like a time bomb ticking among the youth of the Gaza Strip.
Something must be done immediately to find a solution to the employment problem and protect the Gazan youth from moral devaluation. The young men and women of the Gaza Strip must receive a proper moral education, so that they are able to have families in the future. Anyone following the situation in the Gaza Strip can clearly see the problem of rising crime rates: theft, murder, and drug dealing and use. The latter has been spreading among the Gazan youth in recent years, and its devastating effect on society, the family, and the individual cannot be disregarded. To get a dose, a drug addict is capable of any crime that goes against the values of the Palestinian society. Drug addicts lie, steal, kill, and become collaborators, doing the most shameful things to feed their addiction.
Drug addiction leads to further physical and mental problems and wastes the society’s resources. It causes men to lose control and willpower. It is true that the scope of this phenomenon is not exactly known, but it is becoming a real threat to the Gazan society.
Identification of such problems among the Palestinian youth is no mystery. It simply requires rigorous and serious monitoring and understanding of the situation. First and foremost, these young people need to have hope for tomorrow – for job opportunities and a better life, be it as an owner of a small business, a farmer, or any other decent profession.