On approximately the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere) and in my effort to keep us all current on life in Gaza under siege and ignored by much of the world, including many Palestinians in the West Bank, I’m posting a recent powerful message—or series of messages—compiled by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights based in Gaza.
While in Gaza I had the opportunity of visiting regions with a British woman, Louisa, who was volunteering as a writer for PCHR. She might be the author of some of these messages.
Much in these narratives resonates with my experience investigating hydropolitics, human rights violations, resistance to the siege, medical conditions, and daily life in Gaza. A favorite expression of my friends when the electricity suddenly disappeared or we’d run out of cooking gas: “Ah, life in Gaza!” Accompanied by a chuckle, a life-sustaining chuckle. But for how long?
Hassan Sheikh Hijazi Flower Farm
When Hassan Sheikh Hijazi first opened his flower farm in 1991, it flourished. “We had a very good family business,” he says. “We exported hundreds of thousands of flowers to Holland – and from there our flowers were sold across Europe. The traders knew our flowers were good quality – and Gaza was open for business.”
The industrial refrigerator at Hassan Hijazi’s farm stores 100,000 flowers.
But he cannot sell them.
Ard El Insan Child Nutrition Centre
“We receive 20-25 new referrals every day, and we see approximately three hundred and fifty children a week here at the centre. Last year we treated more than eight thousand four hundred children here in Gaza city, plus another eight thousand children at our centre in Khan Yunis. All of them were under 5 years old, and all of them were malnourished.”
Ard El Insan Child Nutrition Centre in Gaza city treated almost 8,500 malnourished youngsters last year.
Abed Rabbo St, East Jabaliya
“I heard shooting, then screaming. I rushed upstairs to see what had happened, and they were both on the floor. Jaqueline was already dead, but Iyad was still alive. The neighbours called an ambulance and we ran to the hospital with him, but he died as soon as we arrived.”
Old Photos for Jaqueline and Iyad Abu Shebak
Rafah Fishermen’s Syndicate
“I’ve been a fisherman for thirty six years, ever since I was fifteen years old. My original village, Il Jura, was famous for its fishermen. When my father migrated to Gaza in 1948, he came here by boat.”
Jamal Mohammed Bassalla on one of his fishing boats, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza Strip
Whenever he stands at his front door, or looks out of an upstairs window, Jamal Swailem can clearly see Erez Crossing. His house lies just 400 metres from Erez, close enough for him to see pedestrians walking through the crossing into Gaza; and also close enough for the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) to see every move the Swailem family make.
in the background.
Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza city
Moin Ali Mahmoud al-Wadiya was working in the al-Zaytoun district of east Gaza city when Israeli Occupying forces (IOF) invaded al-Zaytoun on January 15th. The fourty eight year old mechanic immediately tried to flee the intense IOF shelling, but when he stopped in order to drag a critically injured civilian to safety, the ground beneath him exploded. When he regained consciousness, in Gaza city’s main al-Shifa hospital, Moin al-Wadiya had lost his left foot. His right leg is smashed and he has serious lacerations across his stomach.
“I have six children” he says. “But now there is no-one to support my family.”
Moin Ali Mahmoud al-Wadiya at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city.