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Gaza: Hunger before the storm

by via the Electronic Intifada
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 :Israeli politicians, in the run-up to elections, are promising to deal a severe blow to Gaza as this is how Israeli policy is made. However, every household in Gaza is already under siege. In Gaza you can only find pale, angry and frustrated faces. If you visit my house you won't find power, while my neighbor is out of gas.
Another neighbor seeks potable water as power outages have left him without for four days. A third neighbor desparately looks for milk for his child but does so in vain. Another friend who lives on the corner needs medicine that can't currently be found in Gaza.

There is no shortage of such stories in Gaza (though there is a shortage of nearly everything else). Perhaps broadcasting such stories would result in pressure on Israeli leaders to stop the siege. Because what is happening is that the entire Gaza population of 1.5 million -- densely packed into a small area -- is being punished for crude rockets being fired into Israel by a few.

Shaher Mazen, 25, holds a degree in political science but works as a taxi driver to put bread on the table for his family. I spoke to him while I was on my way to some of the Gaza bakeries to cover some news that was happening there. Shaher was frustrated because of siege and furious towards the two rival Palestinian governments, considering them as weak in the face of Israel.

Mazen said, "We are under an organized Israeli media campaign. We are being starved and victimized by Israel. The world think we are besieging Israel, not the other way around. Israel is playing up the issue of rocket fire to besiege us more and more."

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§No bread in Gaza
by via the Electronic Intifada
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 :The Gaza Strip, home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians, will soon be without its most basic commodity: bread. While families around the world celebrate Christmas, gathering around tables of abundance, Gaza parents like me will not even be able provide bread for their children unless Israel opens the commercial crossings to Gaza from the outside world.

Yesterday, after I finished my lecture at one of Gaza's universities, my wife asked me to bring some bread from Gaza City. All bakeries in our area have stopped operating because of the lack of flour and cooking gas due to Israel's 18-month siege of the territory.

I drove throughout Gaza City to try to find some bread for my four children, instead finding a miserable scene. On the drive back to my home in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, I saw dozens of people lining up in rows to get bread from al-Yazji Bakery. I quickly realized that it would take one or two hours until it would be my turn in line, by which time I might not find bread at all. So I continued my drive back to Maghazi, without bread.

"Father, we want to eat, we don't have bread," my eldest daughter complained. I paused and then thought to ask my son Munir to bring some felafel sandwiches -- our answer to fast food -- so we can quickly fill our empty stomachs. Fortunately, after a while Munir returned carrying sandwiches bought at an inflated price.

While we were eating, my wife asked me to drive early to Gaza City the next day so we might buy some bread. Imagine that today in Gaza, acquiring a simple package of bread requires getting up at daybreak, purchasing a gallon of expensive gas because it is smuggled in from Egypt, and that it will take two or three hours to complete the task! Of course, my family's story is not special. It is the story of all families in Gaza who are trying to survive a deliberate humanitarian crisis created by Israel.

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