What if you were in Gaza today, and you couldn't leave? To what lengths would you go to get out? This question has been on the minds of the people of Gaza long before the latest escalation of violence (which, for the moment, has abated thanks to a ceasefire). Unemployment stands at 31.5%. A tightly controlled blockade on imports and exports — imposed by Israel to prevent arms from reaching Hamas militants — stifles the economy. And as we've seen, a new round of violence can erupt with little warning. For the many who want to flee, the congested strip of land feels like a prison.
All of this must have been racing through the mind of Berlanty Azzam when she was deported back to Gaza. The 21-year-old Christian had been studying at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the two Palestinian territories, are divided by Israel proper and governed separately, and thus feel worlds apart. Knowing how Berlanty's deportation jeopardized her future, the religious brothers who run the Catholic university tried desperately to bring her back.
Berlanty is one of the students profiled in the documentary Across the Divide
(view the trailer here
), which, following a cross-country tour of screenings, airs on S+L on Thursday night at 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT and 1:00 am ET/10:00 pm PT.
In Across the Divide
, you will meet Berlanty and her family. You will see Gaza City and gain a sense of what it must be like for its terrified citizens, who, these past eight days, have wanted to be anywhere in the world but home.
Credit: CNS photo/Mohamad Salem, Reuters