A Hamas-run Palestinian news site has claimed there is a Palestinian movement to hold a Russian annexation referendum in the Gaza Strip much like there was in Crimea earlier this week. A group has been set up to make a proposal for a referendum.
According to the Russian-language version of the Palestinian Information Centre, the group seeks annexation for security, economic and political reasons. One member said, “Moscow has said it will defend Russians anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, we live in a place where Israel has threatened our lives and those of our children for years on end. But if the Gaza Strip joined Russia, we would also have a well-protected border, up-to-date weapons, perhaps, even nuclear weapons.”
The supporters of the movement say its plausible, because plenty of countries have overseas territories. For instance, the U.K. has Gibralter and the Falkland Islands, which isn't a very good example considering the conflict the Falklands has caused between Argentina and the U.K.
The report has not been verified by Hamas representatives and was only published on the Palestinian Information Centre’s Russian-language website, raising suspicion about its validity.
Russia is one of the only countries in the world that does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization, and the report could be an attempt to drum up support for Palestinian independence among Russians.
The report claims there are 50,000 Russian citizens living in the Gaza Strip, made up mostly of Russian women who married Palestinians but retained their passports. The Voice of Russia reports that there were only about 400 Russian citizens living in the Gaza Strip in 2012
The Digital Journal is calling it satire and jokes that Israelis will wake up tomorrow “to see Russian trucks with no license plates patrolling Gaza borders and unidentified armed men on patrol but who speak Russian.”
The Voice of Russia, which originally reported on the story, is a state-owned entity and doesn’t hesitate to publish pro-Kremlin stories, like this one, which points out that plenty of U.S. states want to leave the Union too. Still, even the Voice of Russia editors think the Palestinian Information Centre is just looking to draw readership with talk of referendums.
Either way, Russia has promised it won’t attempt to annex eastern Ukraine, arguable the most annex-able territory at the moment. The Gaza Strip? Not even on the radar.