GAZA: After spending most of the month-long Gaza war trapped at home watching the news for hours, Palestinian Salam al-Bayid returned to her university for the first time on Thursday to find the administration building with its facade in pieces.
With the ceasefire that started on Tuesday still holding, the 18-year-old architecture student had been looking forward to getting out and meeting her friends, but the damage at the Islamic University campus upset her.
“Even the universities were bombed and targeted - everything is the target of the Israeli army,” she said, a short distance from the building with its windows blown in and upper floors collapsed on one another.
Officials in Gaza say the war has killed 1,874 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.
Apart from the considerable material damage that has been visited on the territory, young people in Gaza say the security situation means they have little to do after work and studies.
Even before the war there were few places for public entertainment so they stay at home, sleep or surf websites like YouTube and Facebook - where they often compare their experiences to others living abroad.
“They have a normal life and none of the suffering of Gaza,” Bayid said.
Some dream of a life outside the impoverished Gaza Strip, where around a third of people are unemployed. With more than half of the population of 1.8 million under 18 years old, the economy will have to cope with even more entrants to the job market.
“People graduated from university and now they have no work. There is no enterprise here, there are no jobs,” said Mohammed al-Shurafa, a 24-year-old dressed in skinny jeans and a black T-shirt.
A university graduate turned market vendor, Shurafa thinks life would be better in a foreign country but he would prefer to improve the situation in Gaza instead, so that he can stay in the place he has grown up in.
“We need work, a life without weapons and maybe a passage to Jerusalem to go to pray,” he said.
Young people, many of them highly qualified, often complain about how difficult it is to leave the Gaza Strip, a small, densely populated territory that is subject to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on goods and people.
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