Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Gaza struggling to survive blockade

Expand Messages
  • World View
    Gaza s poor struggling to survive in the face of an economic blockade By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City 15 September 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Gaza's poor struggling to survive in the face of an economic blockade
      By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City
      15 September 2006
      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1603672.ece


      Though she wasn't expecting visitors, Itidal al-Nazli, 35, was happy
      to display the sparse contents of her refrigerator. Despite the daily
      and lengthy interruptions to electricity supply since the Israelis
      bombed Gaza's only power station in early July, it's where she still
      stores the more perishable food for her family of 10 children.
      Yesterday morning, after the family had breakfasted on two large
      potatoes and an aubergine donated by a kindly neighbour, it
      contained six rather shrivelled peppers, a bag of coffee, three olives
      in a bowl, a bag of charcoal, and three bags containing crusts of bread.

      Even amid the deepening poverty of Gaza since Israel and the
      international community imposed its economic blockade on the
      Palestinian Authority (PA) after Hamas won the elections last January,
      Mrs al-Nazli's plight is acute. Belonging to no political faction, and
      unable to leave the children - including five-year-old quadruplets -
      ranging from Nevin, 10, to Aya, two, she says she receives no handouts
      from local charities. Though from a long-time Gazan family, she is
      ineligible for the UN food coupons handed out to refugees; indeed, she
      explains, once or twice a year, some refugee friends pass on one sack
      of flour, two bottles of oil and 2kg apiece of beans, lentils, rice
      and sugar.

      It was after January, however, that survival became a real struggle.
      We are in the eastern suburb of Shajaia which has borne more than its
      share of the 218 Palestinian deaths in Gaza - including, according to
      the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights, 146 civilians, in Israeli
      incursions since Cpl Gilad Shalit was abducted by militants in June.

      But Mrs al-Nazli's main preoccupations are financial - a sharp
      reminder of how high the stakes are for Palestinians here in the
      imminent international debate on whether to ease the economic siege on
      the Palestinian Authority in response to the new Hamas-Fatah
      government of "national unity" expected to be formed in the coming days.

      For the last six months, she has paid neither the £37-per-month rent
      nor, like hundreds of thousands of Gazans, £18 per month in water and
      electricity charges. Her husband Sami, 38, is unemployed but his wife
      says "he used to work four or five days every month, doing odd jobs".
      "But now there is nothing. We don't have anything. The children eat
      the same food as I do - lentils and beans. Meat? We never see it."
      Sometimes, she says, neighbours give them handouts of a few
      vegetables and fruit. "I have no milk for the children," she says,
      rubbing her thumb and fingers together to show the problem is money
      and not shortages.

      The breezeblock walls and concrete floor of her two-room apartment,
      whose living room is furnished with one single bed and where most of
      the children sleep on a blanket on the floor, are entirely bare. Yet
      there is something irrepressibly cheerful about Mrs al-Nazli, who,
      despite coming from a poor family, took a two-year qualification in
      teaching Arabic only to find, like so many other Gaza graduates, that
      there were no jobs. If she had got a job she would have found ways of
      funding child-care and might have had fewer children, she says, while
      adding quickly with a radiant smile that "they are a gift from God".

      A few doors down, by contrast, Souad al Qaraya, 33, weeps repeatedly
      as she describes her struggle to feed her five children. "We had bread
      - one shekel [13p] - beans - one shekel," she says of yesterday's
      family breakfast. "That's it." In her four-room home there are
      carpets, wall coverings and pictures, denoting a once adequately
      provided-for family fallen on the hardest of times.
      Her husband Samir, 46, lost his job two years ago when he was
      diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - he is currently in hospital in
      Egypt, his treatment, she says, delayed by the failure of Gaza's Shifa
      hospital to get the right medicine.

      But she somehow scraped by with the help of savings and the
      £32-per-month PA social security until, like the PA employees'
      salaries on which Gaza's economy so disproportionately depends, it
      stopped after Hamas's election victory. With a less forgiving landlord
      than Mrs al-Nazli, she has to borrow the £48 rent he comes for every
      month. "He comes to the door and won't leave till he gets it," she
      says. Neighbours help when they can.

      But Mrs al-Qaraya dissolves into tears again as she indicates that the
      family solidarity which has kept Gazans afloat despite all the odds
      may be breaking down. She says her father helped her "three times"
      financially "but now doesn't visit - God forgive him" - and she cannot
      afford the taxi fare to see him. "He said my husband's brothers should
      help me now. But they have done nothing and it is hard to ask them
      because I have my dignity."

      Mrs al-Nazli and Mrs al-Qaraya hardly dare share in the optimism
      expressed by Hamas that the EU will ease its part in the blockade in
      response to the formation of a coalition government which, while not
      explicitly recognising Israel, should commit Hamas to backing talks on
      a two-state solution when it is formed, perhaps as early as next week.

      Although Mrs al-Nazli voted Fatah last January she says: "I blame the
      governments of America and Britain for this but not the peoples
      because they don't know about us."

      By contrast, her cousin Hamoud Wadiyeh, 23, who earns £3.50 a day as a
      barber and buys the orangeade to exempt Mrs al-Nazli from the
      indignity of not offering hospitality, says: "I blame Hamas because
      they only look after their own people," while adding that "Fatah is
      the same".

      Asked of the prospects of the "unity government", Mrs al-Qaraya says:
      "We should be hopeful about anything new. But hope depends on God."

      ===

      Palestinians forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps
      Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem
      9 September 2006
      The Independent
      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1431114.ece


      The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse
      in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by
      looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid
      agencies.

      "The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for
      compromise," Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency
      is said to have warned. "But rather they have created mass despair,
      anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."

      Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to
      1.5 million Palestinians, on 25 June and has conducted frequent raids
      and bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. The crisis
      in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world, which has
      been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

      "Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with
      tomatoes or cheap vegetables," said Kirstie Campbell of the UN's World
      Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added that in
      June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent of people
      in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. "People are raiding
      garbage dumps," she said.

      Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they
      have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay
      for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli air strike
      in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza\'s agricultural land
      was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

      The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has
      led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot
      fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a
      few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the international
      boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no foreign aid to
      pay Palestinian government employees. The government used to have a
      monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay 165,000 public
      sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.

      Aid agencies are frustrated by their inability to persuade the world
      that the humanitarian crisis is far worse in Gaza than it is in
      Lebanon. The WFP says: "In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarian
      food aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poor
      in Gaza are living on the bare minimum."

      It is possible for foreign journalists to visit Gaza but it is a
      laborious process passing through the main Israeli checkpoint at Erez
      and then walking down a long concrete tunnel. The kidnapping of two
      Fox television employees by criminals - though they were later
      released - has also dissuaded several TV companies from covering the
      crisis.

      The total closure imposed by Israel dates from the seizure of Cpt
      Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants on 25 June. Between then and the
      end of August, Israeli security forces killed 226 Palestinians, 54 of
      them minors, in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli human rights
      organisation B'Tselem. Of these it says that 114 were taking no part
      in any hostilities.

      The quickest way to alleviate the crisis would be for Israel to allow
      the Rafah crossing into Egypt to reopen, according to the mayor of
      Gaza City. But any restoration of the economy would require the
      reopening of the other crossing points at Erez and Karni.

      * Israel lifted its sea blockade of Lebanon yesterday after an interim
      maritime task force led by an Italian admiral deployed off the
      Lebanese coast, the commander of UN peacekeepers said.

      The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse
      in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by
      looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid
      agencies.

      "The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for
      compromise," Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency
      is said to have warned. "But rather they have created mass despair,
      anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."

      Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to
      1.5 million Palestinians, on 25 June and has conducted frequent raids
      and bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. The crisis
      in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world, which has
      been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

      "Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with
      tomatoes or cheap vegetables," said Kirstie Campbell of the UN\'s
      World Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added that
      in June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent of
      people in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. "People are
      raiding garbage dumps," she said.

      Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they
      have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay
      for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli air strike
      in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza\'s agricultural land
      was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

      The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has
      led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot
      fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a
      few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the international
      boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no foreign aid to
      pay Palestinian government employees. The government used to have a
      monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay 165,000 public
      sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.

      Aid agencies are frustrated by their inability to persuade the world
      that the humanitarian crisis is far worse in Gaza than it is in
      Lebanon. The WFP says: "In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarian
      food aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poor
      in Gaza are living on the bare minimum."

      It is possible for foreign journalists to visit Gaza but it is a
      laborious process passing through the main Israeli checkpoint at Erez
      and then walking down a long concrete tunnel. The kidnapping of two
      Fox television employees by criminals - though they were later
      released - has also dissuaded several TV companies from covering the
      crisis.

      The total closure imposed by Israel dates from the seizure of Cpl
      Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants on 25 June. Between then and the
      end of August, Israeli security forces killed 226 Palestinians, 54 of
      them minors, in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli human rights
      organisation B'Tselem. Of these it says that 114 were taking no part
      in any hostilities.

      The quickest way to alleviate the crisis would be for Israel to allow
      the Rafah crossing into Egypt to reopen, according to the mayor of
      Gaza City. But any restoration of the economy would require the
      reopening of the other crossing points at Erez and Karni.

      * Israel lifted its sea blockade of Lebanon yesterday after an interim
      maritime task force led by an Italian admiral deployed off the
      Lebanese coast, the commander of UN peacekeepers said.

      *********************************************************************

      WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE

      To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
      wvns-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW
      http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/wvns/
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.