"Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Gaza Overwhelmed by Siege, Having No Joy or Eid
By Sameh A. Habeeb, MMNS Palestine Correspondent
Gaza Strip—Palestine—Dec 8, 2008
The siege of the Gaza strip has been in place for nearly 2 years. A total of 7 crossing points linking Gaza with the outside world have been closed. Raw materials, food stuffs, spare parts, medical machines and tens of commodities were barred from Gaza. Construction projects, housing and infrastructure rehabilitation were halted, leaving Gaza in dire straits of poverty and chaos.
The halted projects and operational materials prevented from coming into Gaza left around 40,000 laborers jobless. Add to that 140,000, mostly family breadwinners, turned jobless after they were working in Israel since 2000. Automatically, their families (counted by the hundreds of thousands) turned needy and poor.
The recent 'Eidul Adha comes over Gaza with nearly no glimpse of hope or happiness. People are overburdened by life hardships. Families are confused over the daily dilemmas of securing cocking gas, flour, bread, candlelight and basics of life. No one is looking for secondary things like toys for children elegant clothes or other things being secured by Muslims abroad.
If you tour Gaza's markets you would find many kinds of smuggled commodities from Egypt. But seeing it is in vain because the purchasing capacity is unlikely available for the people, since no sources of income are available. Few families are able to secure all their needs, without good salaries and saved money.
I spoke to Om Ali, a woman in her thirties; she was outraged about the situation, but asked Allah's help to overcome her financial problems. "I came to buy some sweets and candies for my children. I could not buy them clothes this year, so I had to go and buy them candies, which is cheaper. My husband is jobless for several years now. We are dependent only on UNRWA assistance" which is provided periodically.
One of the shop owners, Ahmed Al taweel, expressed his deep dissatisfaction about the general atmosphere of his sales.
"At first Israelis prevented all commodities from entering Gaza and still. Thus, we started to buy smuggled commodities, of which the prices are too high. Therefore due to these high prices, people are not able to afford to buy what they need. This is negatively impacting my shop and my financial status," said Ahmed.
In the same context, agencies reported one day before Eid that UNRWA food aid reserves in the Gaza Strip were approaching running out, within 2 days if Israel continues to totally close off commercial crossing points.
UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, Adnan Abu Hasana, said that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was increasing. He called on the international community to demand Israel allow the shipment of food aid to Gaza. He noted that over 750,000 people in the area rely almost entirely on the aid.
Since the 4th of November 2008, the Israeli army totally prevented all commodities from getting into Gaza, including UNRWA needs. Around 16 truckloads were allowed into the Gaza Strip last Thursday but were not enough in light of the brewing humanitarian crisis.
Another ordeal out of Gaza is the issue of salaries due to Israeli economic siege over Gaza's banks. Public service employees were awaiting to have salaries pre Eid but due to closure they have got nothing. Israel didn't allow money liquidity into Gaza leaving around tens of thousands with no salaries. This was negatively reflected on their readiness to Eid as well as their families and children.
The suffering doesn't end yet. Israel barred a boat today, Sunday, which had been loaded with humanitarian, medical aids and toys for children, amounting to 2 tons, into Gaza. The boat was planned to sail from Jaffa in Israel. A week ago, the Israeli army prevented a Libyan boat from arriving off Gaza shore to deliver 3 thousand tons of aid.
It seems that the ordeals of Palestinians would not come to an end. Israel is imposing a tight collective punishment policy on 1.5 million. The more aggravating and sad fact is the silence that emanates from governments and people across the world!