What the real situation is like in Gaza

By Moeen Elhelou, June 10, 2010

What is the real situation in Gaza? I will try to give you a taste of what it is like to live as a journalist here.

Every morning when I wake up I hope that there will be electricity. If there is none, I cannot surf the internet or watch TV - and just as bad, I cannot iron clean clothes. This morning, for example, there was none. My wife told me: "There is no choice, just wear what you wore yesterday".

If there is no electricity, there is no water. The water in the taps is dirty, and we use it only for washing or cleaning. Drinking water is bought. Every family has a large container, which it fills once a week from containers passed through the neighbourhood. The water in the taps comes from the municipality, but the flow of water is weak. We installed a pump, but it works on electricity. And we don't have electricity. So there is also no water.

I drive to work in my used car. I have a Fiat from 1984, which cost me $5,000, and not a day goes by without a visit to the mechanic. But although my car is so old, every day people stop me to ask whether I am selling. For the past three years, importing cars has been forbidden. The only exception is the cars brought into Gaza by George Galloway, which are used by members of the Hamas government. Otherwise, people fix up old cars which in Israel would have been discarded.

When I finally reach work, I have to finish all my tasks by 4pm. In my office, the generator only works until four o'clock. The generators in Gaza are an ongoing problem. They are made in China and reach Gaza through the tunnels. Almost every week a generator explodes, people are injured and killed, but there is no choice. You can't live without electricity.

When all the neighbours turn on their generators I feel like I live inside a factory. The noise is awful, as is the smell. Luckily, the children have become used to the power cuts and are no longer afraid.

In the past there was a food shortage; it was impossible to find any milk products. Today, there is everything. But it's not cheap. Tens of thousands of us have no work, and those who do work do not earn much; maybe NIS 1,200 (£210) a month. Food prices, by contrast, are similar to the prices in Israel.

The food comes from Israel. Sometimes the trucks are delayed in the Israeli crossings and by the time the food gets in it is rotten. Not that we can cook it anyway, as we have no cooking gas.

For long periods we would bring in wooden branches and lay them on the stove. You put everything in one pot, because it is quickest and most convenient. Recently the gas balloons are coming in more quickly.

Once home from work, there is not much to do. Sometimes I take the children to the beach, but after sunset the Israeli ships start lighting the beach with floodlights and everyone runs home. There is no cinema in Gaza. It is also hard to find books.

There is no cement, as Israel claims that Hamas uses it to build bunkers, so there is no building. Newlyweds have to live with their family. The crowding here is awful and house prices are extremely high, because 5,000 houses were destroyed during the war and not replaced.

You can say that the blockade failed because we do get goods through the tunnels, but there is no freedom of movement. One colleague, Nagah Sultaan, says she feels suffocated.

"I am physically healthy but almost mentally ill. I just want to get out of Gaza for a few days, even to Ramallah, just to get some air, like everyone else."

Anyone who says there is no siege on Gaza does not know what they are talking about.

Moeen Elhelou is a Gaza-based journalist

Last updated: 2:24pm, August 13 2010


jose (not verified)

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:13

Rate this:

0 points

Interesting that in this article, there is no word to mention what to do to ease the situation, such as returning ousting Hamas, returning Gilad Shalit, and stopping those who rocket daily Israeli civilians.
Just like a German during the Nazi regime who would complain about their situation at the end of the war...

Am I mistaken or the good people of Gaza have chosen, in a full democratic election, to empower an organization that is considered as terrorist by all main donators of the Palestinians? Isn't that a case of biting the hand that feeds?

At least, the usual lie about the lack of food is dispelled.

No word also to reveal that the blockade/siege is much more violent in Egypt than in Israel. Nearly all humanitarian aid goes through Israel.


Fri, 01/21/2011 - 16:42

Rate this:

0 points

I am absolutely blown away at how great the information is on this webpage. I have written down this website and I truly intend on visiting the site in the next few days. Great job keep up the great work
Woodfield university


You must be logged in to post a comment.