Published: 2018-01-24 19:30
Last Updated: 2018-01-24 20:11
Editor: Abeer Ayyoub
Nine years after she left Gaza and decided to get married to her beloved one in the West Bank, Nadine Shaheen, 31, went back to Gaza with her husband for a visit during the Christian holidays after they got an Israeli permit. But the couple were not alone; they went with their two daughters, Kinzy and Christy, to see that Gaza “is no longer the place [they] know.”
Nadine says that nine years were enough for Gaza to change; “Gaza is no longer the Gaza I left, I felt homesick, most of my friends and relatives either left the city or are currently planning to,” Nadine said.
“It’s true that there are new buildings and new malls, but there is no middle class any more, people are either too rich or too poor,” she carried on.
Samir, Nadine’s husband, who is originally from Gaza, but never lived there, said that he was so eager to go with Nadine to see her relatives, and explore the city, however he was too shocked with the ‘’miserable situation."
“I really wanted to go, to see the beach, eat fresh fish, and to see people and friends, I was happy to be granted the permit,” Samir said.
The couple made it during the weekend, but they said they felt the city is sad, “it was a weekend, and you would barely see people around,” he added.
Christian population in Gaza used to be more than 1500, but dozens of them left during the last couple of years. Christians usually get Israeli permits to go to Bethlehem during Christmas and the New Years, many of them stay in the West Bank and never go back again.
Humanitarian situation in Gaza has been deteriorating since Hamas took over in 2007. More than half of the population is unemployed while 70 % rely on the humanitarian handouts. Meanwhile, The Rafah border which is the main way in and out the Gaza Strip, is often closed, leaving two million human beings trapped in what’s known as the “biggest open-air prison” in the world.
Earlier this month, the United States announced its plan to reduce the amount of fund donated for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) to the half, as “Palestinians were not collaborating to maintain peace in the region.”
Nadine said she was happy she will spend some time with her husband in Gaza,however she was surprised with a new Gaza.
“I started a life outside Gaza, but I would never want to go back or raise my daughters in such a place, there is no life to be lived in Gaza.”