Article by Nicolette Boehland, Harvard Law Fellow at CIVIC.
Last September, I went to Gaza to talk to civilians about their experiences during conflict. When I arrived at my hotel, the manager told me with pride that I was lucky to be staying in one of the most secure locations in the Gaza Strip. He beckoned me to the balcony of my room to show me our two security guarantees below, big blue letters, each 15 feet high, UN, and on a nearby rooftop, the huge black letters, EU.
These emblems, he explained, were the benefits afforded to a hotel that often housed international workers and provided office space for the European Union. This was an early indication of the reality that for Gazans, the notion of civilian protection is deeply ambiguous.
For Gazans, fate can be determined by the identity of a neighbor, a military target on the next street, or an international organization’s emblem. Staying safe in Gaza is complex and difficult — and it looks and feels very different to civilians living there than it does to outsiders.