News & Politics

'They Felt They Had Nothing to Lose': NBC Reporter Explains Why Gaza Residents Risk Death to Protest

"If you imagine it as a prison, with Hamas as the warden, it is a very difficult place to live."

Photo Credit: MSNBC

As Israeli soldiers killed dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Monday and wounded, top officials in President Donald Trump's administration celebrated the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, not all that far away. The images of ceremony and celebration along with protest and bloodshed reveal the fundamental divide that is crucial to understanding the position Gaza is in — and why this kind of violence breaks out.

On "The Rachel Maddow Show" Monday night, NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel gave a brief explanation of what life is like inside Gaza and why residents are willing to protest even when they know they'll be met with violent opposition.  

"The Gaza Strip is a relatively small area, maybe double the size of Washington, D.C., nearly 2 million people live there, and it is completely cut off," he said. "The people inside Gaza, many of them compare it to a prison. They can't leave, they need extraordinary permission from Israel or from Egypt to leave, which is rarely given. It's very difficult for them to do any business or commerce."

He continued: "If you imagine it as a prison, with Hamas as the warden, it is a very difficult place to live. Not a lot of people like, even in Gaza, the way the place is being run. So it is an incredibly desperate place. And a lot of the people who went to the borders today, according to numerous interviews, including of hospital officials, say they felt they had nothing to lose. Better to die for some sort of principle, because living the way they were living was no way to live at all."

Watch the clip below:


Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.