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Edible plants, poetry and English lessons: a Mother's day in a Gaza tent

February 22, 2024 at 7:28 pm

=Palestinians who fled the Israeli attacks and took refuge in Rafah city survive their daily lives in makeshift tents with limited means and under difficult conditions in Gaza on February 19, 2024. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

Life for Gaza teacher, Inas Al-Baz, has shrunk to a daily search for food and water for her family, but she breaks the monotony as often as she can, whether it’s with a fresh ingredient for her cooking pot or study time with her children in their tent, Reuters reports.

The Al-Baz family, from Al-Shati refugee camp, are among an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into the Rafah area in southern Gaza after Israel’s military onslaught on the crowded Strip of land displaced them from their homes.

“My children have hobbies and are good at school, thank God. They used to have their ambitions and their own activities like all children,” she said in the family’s shelter made from nylon sheets nailed to plywood strips.

“But now it’s all about ‘Mother, what will we eat? What will we drink?'”

Al-Baz said her children were fed up with canned food, one of the only things she can find to feed them, but she was happy that, thanks to recent rainfall, a type of edible plant called mallow had grown nearby and she had some for the next meal.

READ: Palestinian man’s joy as first child born after 12-year wait, shattered by Gaza war

She was washing chopped mallow leaves in a pot on the ground, in preparation for cooking them on a small camping gas stove.

She said she had just recently got hold of the stove, a marked improvement after months of cooking on an open fire that produced fumes that made one of her daughters sick.

Daily chores such as making bread, sweeping sand out of the shelter and washing clothes by hand in small buckets were time-consuming, but Al-Baz was determined to keep up her children’s education.

“I don’t waste time in the tent. I teach them Koran, I teach them poetry,” she said.

“Our children are suffering, deprived of their rights. But we, as Palestinian women, are patient and we work hard in pushing our children to be the best children,” she said.

Kneeling inside the tent, her daughter, Anood, recited a poem in Arabic with a lively intonation. Al-Baz sat with her son, Swalem, teaching him basic English. The children also enjoyed some play time flying a kite outside the shelter.

“I consider the Palestinian women among the strongest women in the world,” said Al-Baz.

“We, as Palestinian women, suffer a lot, a lot, a lot in these tents. But, despite this, we can adapt to the circumstances and we can live our lives,” she said.

The war was triggered by Hamas who broke out of Gaza to attack southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israel.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that has killed more than 29,400 people, according to Gaza health authorities.

The offensive has displaced most of the Territory’s population and caused widespread hunger and disease.

READ: Only long-term solution for Gaza is political: UN envoy