The strict Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which has now been imposed for seven years, is badly affecting all aspects of life for the Palestinian residents of Gaza. Many industries have stopped functioning, leaving most people without work; hence, most families do not have an income.
There is not enough food or water and no signs of decent life in Gaza. Living without most of the primary basics of modern life, former construction worker Abu-Ameen Shaweesh struggles with his 15-member family on the crumbs of aid he receives from charities.
However, charities in the Gaza Strip are also adversely impacted by the draconian siege. They have difficulty receiving aid from the outside because international banks refuse to carry out money transactions to their branches or to the local banks in the Strip. When banks do agree to make transactions, they impose strict measures and transfer only small amounts of money.
Shaweesh, along with his wife and 13 children, live in one basic room. He was forced to stop working in July 2013 when the Egyptian authorities completely closed the tunnels with Gaza, preventing fuel and construction material from entering the Strip. Like thousands of other workers in Gaza, Shaweesh lost his income and his family once again lost their sole secure source of food.
From the inside of his house, which does not meet the standards of basic hygiene, Shaweesh said: “I lost my work and now I cannot afford food for my children. Like other workers, I am experiencing very hard living conditions.”
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip was 32.5 per cent during the third quarter of 2013. Information about the fourth quarter has not yet been released, but because Egypt has destroyed even more tunnels and continues its closure of the Rafah Crossing, the unemployment rate in Gaza is expected to be dramatically higher than it was in the third quarter.
The head of the Contractors Federation in the Gaza Strip Governorates, Nabeel abu-Mo’eeliq, has described the situation for workers as “disastrous”.
“All discussions with the Israeli occupation through mediators to get the construction materials into the Strip have failed,” Abu-Mo’eeliq said.
The Strip currently suffers from severe shortages of fuel, food, clean drinking water, medicines and the most basic requirements needed for a decent life. Sewage floods into the streets and pours into the sea. Charities do not have enough to service all the disadvantaged.
Patients who need urgent treatment abroad are stranded at the closed Rafah Crossing, and students who are supposed to be studying at universities abroad cannot leave to commence their studies.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad