Gaza has been under siege for almost a decade. But people don’t really know what’s happening there.
In one of the latest UN reports, it was mentioned that without a massive investment in reconstruction, Gaza will be “unsuitable for habitation” by 2020. Commenting on the issue, Salah Haj Yahya, 50, a member who has been leading delegations from Physicians for Human Rights to the Gaza Strip for 30 years, told Haaretz that more than 60 percent of the Gaza inhabitants are unemployed. There’s terrible poverty. There is simply no money. Not for food or for medications, not for warm clothes for children.
According to what he reported, people light fires in order to stay warm. It’s quite common in Gaza to see a fire outside a tent standing next to a ruined house. People are afraid to move far from ruined houses even though there’s no chance they’ll get any compensation. They know that if they move away someone will take over the land and they’ll lose that as well.
The education system isn’t working. The health system is finished. Agriculture is dying. There are no materials, no way of working and even if there is some produce there’s no one to sell it to. The man added that he just saw something he couldn’t believe – people sell a kilo of strawberries there for 3 shekels [0.78 US Dollar]. If that’s what the vendor in the market charges, how much did the farmer make?
Additionally, water sources are contaminated. The water is unfit to drink, unfit for any use. There is hardly any electricity. Gaza is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster. There’s hardly any international aid and the Arab states aren’t trying to provide any assistance.
Hospitals face dire shortages of medications and equipment. There are no syringes, no bandages and no tubes. When a surgeon asks for a specific scalpel or bandage during surgery he’s told that there aren’t any available. When we train a local doctor and teach him techniques and procedures he has nothing to work with.
Chronic patients are always on the brink. For example, if someone miraculously recovers from a kidney transplant he can’t obtain the drugs that support the transplant. There just aren’t any. There are hardly any dialysis or MRI machines. There are many materials or types of equipment we can’t take over since they could be used for prohibited activities. Hospitals are barely functioning since they need huge amounts of diesel fuel – 360,000 liters a month.
There is power for four hours and then a break for 12. Gazans used to buy cheap diesel from Egypt but this is no longer an option, and they can’t afford gasoline and diesel that comes from the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories.
The cardinal problem is in the hospitals. Beyond the issue of diesel fuel, you can’t operate a generator for so many hours. They’re not built for that. They are meant for emergencies, not for ongoing operation day and night, year after year. When the power goes there are a few difficult and life-endangering moments until the generators kick in. We see the terrible results, especially in neonatal units. People pay with their lives on an almost daily basis.
There is no running water in many parts of the strip, and concerns of epidemics breaking out. During ‘Protective Edge’ War, many main pipelines were broken and they aren’t able to repair them. A large proportion of water sources are contaminated since the dysfunctional sewerage system leads to seepage into the drinking water.
The man himself doesn’t drink water in Gaza because he knows he will get sick from it. “Residents have no other choice and they drink it. We see many children who have been affected by contaminated water, some suffering from amoeba infection.”
Clean water is a privilege enjoyed by rich people. People can only buy mineral water from the Zionist entity or Ramallah. Not everyone can afford it.