Driven by fear of civil war and increasingly bleak economic prospects, Palestinians are fleeing their violence-wracked neighborhoods in growing numbers. Many are skilled and educated, and are leaving behind an increasingly impoverished and fundamentalist society. The brain drain reverses a trend of the 1990s when, fueled by peace hopes, thousands of well-to-do Palestinians returned from the diaspora to the West Bank and Gaza, building homes and setting up businesses. More than 20 factories have moved out of Gaza in recent months.
Some 10,000 Palestinians emigrated between June and October and another 45,000 have made preparations to leave, said Ahmed Suboh, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official. A recent poll indicated that the number of young Palestinians willing to leave if given a chance has jumped from 25% to 44% over two years. Two popular destinations for Gazans are Canada and Cuba. Those with tourist visas to Cuba often get off in transit at a European airport.