Questions from a friend in Gaza

April 22, 2024
Palestinian refugees
Desperate Palestinians are selling their possessions at a quarter of their value to raise funds to leave Gaza. Photo (2009): Al Jazeera English/Flickr (CC By SA 2.0 DEED)

My friend Samer is well known for helping the poor and needy in Gaza because he always felt that he had a great responsibility towards his people and his country. He was one of Palestine’s engineering cadres who contributed to building national institutions and distinguished himself professionally. He was also distinguished at university, where we became good friends.

Samer was working as an engineer in Gaza before the latest war. He tried to make a living from his salary, which the Palestinian Authority sent to his bank account every first of the month, as they did to teachers and other public service workers, but the banks are now closed. The only way to transfer money to Gaza is through private exchange companies, but they deduct a third of the amount sent. This has become unaffordable with the spiralling prices of basic foodstuffs.

Samer has spent all his savings in his bank account, withdrawing them through private exchange companies that charge a 20% commission.

He has inquired about a way to exit the Gaza Strip and found that there are private companies operating on the black market that take large sums of money in exchange for providing tourist visas to Western countries, and then put the names of those who have obtained these visas at the Rafah border crossing controlled by Egypt and Israel.

It is said that there are some officials in those countries taking bribes from those companies.

My friend told me that it would cost about US$80,000 dollars for his family of seven to move out of Gaza. He does not have this amount of money.

To raise the large amount of money needed to get out of Gaza, Palestinians are selling their private property, such as cars, mobile phones and electrical appliances, at a quarter of their real price, to merchants who exploit their desperate need for money.

There are also some volunteer groups in some Western countries that collect donations for some Palestinian families and help them pay the necessary bribes and obtain tourist visas for Western countries.

Getting out with tourist visas to Western countries deprives these Palestinians displaced by the Gaza war of access to refugee rights, housing, health care, education, social care and many other benefits.

This issue is more than my appeal for help for a friend who is trying to secure his family’s future. The current situation in the tents for the displaced in Rafah is very difficult, and what is provided as a daily relief ration to his family is not enough for a young child. Life is impossible there.

There needs to be a political solution to end this huge waste of the money being imposed on the residents of the Gaza Strip. Most of those displaced from the Gaza Strip to Western countries are not allowed to work and their financial situation is poor and assistance is limited to temporary support, but this has now gone on for a long time.

What are the appropriate solutions to end this problem? Does the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and Gaza not have the ability to control companies that take exorbitant bribes? Even the middle class in Gaza has been impoverished and there is an urgent need for political and economic solutions.

Western governments must also shoulder responsibility for the Palestinians who were displaced to their countries, there partly as a result of their own governments’ policies of supporting Israel’s genocide.

These displaced Palestinians, who now live in austerity and insecurity in rich Western countries, also feel a responsibility to send money to their families left in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians displaced from the Gaza war are also deprived of the right to asylum while they are on tourist visas in Western countries. This is a great injustice in the guise of temporary humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the war in Gaza.

[Khaled Ghannam is a Palestinian activist, author, writer and journalist based in Gadigal/Sydney, Australia. Visit his website at:]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.