Nujoud Al-Ashqar and her family welcomed me into their home, an apartment buried in the sprawl of concret
e buildings that dominate the overcrowded city of Gaza. Many of these buildings still bear the visible signs of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009. Two years later and Nujoud and her family also struggle to move on, two of Nujoud’s sons were killed and she lost her own hand in a white phosphorus attack by the Israeli army on a UN school. Nujoud and her husband are unemployed and rely on food aid. They cannot afford a prosthetic hand, and she is denied access to necessary medical facilities in Israeli hospitals, even on humanitarian grounds. Trócaire’s partner organisation, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, are supporting Nujoud with her case and fighting to get her access to Israeli medical facilities.
Hope in the harsh living
conditions of Gaza lies in the resilience and ingenuity of the people. Following Operation Cast Lead, 95% of Gaza’s factories were destroyed, the initial clean-up of the rubble was estimated at over $20 million USD. Yet ‘rubble factories’ have sprung up, often by former factory owners who have seen their factories destroyed. Given that the blockade has caused an acute shortage of much needed cement for reconstruction, these ‘factories’ use make-shift machinery to form usable blocks out of Gaza’s rubble. Rubble collectors can be seen dotted across Gaza, loading up donkey carts and bringing them to these factories.
Said Al Da’our is a Palestinian farmer living in the north of the Gaza strip near the border with Israel. His lands have been razed three times and his house destroyed by the Israeli military. Since the blockade has been imposed on the Gaza strip he can no longer export his strawberries which he used to sell on the Israeli and West Bank markets. No matter how tough life is, Said tells me, people stand firm and continue with their lives. Only two days after his lands were destroyed, he began rebuilding his home and replanting his crop. “Everyone in Gaza would do the same”, he tells me.
|Top Ten Reasons For Lifting the Blockade of Gaza :
10. The blockade has been in place for over 3 years
Further reading : please read a Trócaire joint report with the Crisis Action network, “Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade” which describes the lack of change in Gaza despite Israel’s pledge to ease the blockade. The report calls for the international community to renew action for an immediate, unconditional, and complete lifting of the blockade.