In Gaza more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five, and it is among the young that the deepest despair often takes root. Some are turning to radical Islam, others to drugs. As many as eighty suicides are reported in Gaza each month, according to local aid groups, many among the young. Most of Gaza’s younger generation have nevertheless remained remarkably resilient, preparing against the odds for a better future, while also making an effort to learn about their past.
Hardly anyone believes that the suffering in Palestine will end anytime soon. But analysts and politicians have always assumed nevertheless that ISIS would never have strong appeal to Palestinians, who demand a country, not a caliphate. Most Sunni Muslims—about 90 percent of the world’s Muslim population, including Palestinians—reject the activist Salafi approach as too literal and sometimes violent in its methods. Conventional wisdom has it that there are separate strands of Salafism—“peaceful” and “jihadist.” But on the ground in Gaza definitions blur, alliances shift.