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Special Reports Last Updated: Dec 5th, 2008 - 02:06:05

Gaza: A bare life zone nearing to a no-life-zone
By Sameh A. Habeeb
Online Journal Guest Writer

Dec 5, 2008, 00:23

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With the last Israeli maneuvers of tightening the siege imposed on Gaza, more life necessities vanished. The key power plant shut down 27 days ago resulted in tremendous direful outcomes. More than 75 percent of the Gaza strip faces severe power cuts and some areas are completely plunged into darkness.

Power cuts and daily blackouts resulted in hindering of all facilities depending on power. The remaining power shares provided by Israel and Egypt are not enough to cover the whole coastal strip. Pumped fresh water is not reaching all living places, farms and central water wells. Sewage and treatment water machines are halted. Additionally around 77 million liters of sewage water leak into the Mediterranean contaminating it and damaging fish resources on a daily basis.

According to the Popular Committee against Siege (PCAS), basic food stuff like milk, flour, food oils, meat, rice and legumes are not available in large quantities. Other needs are not available like raw materials needed to operate small food factories.

Estimates for daily consumption of the following food products in the Gaza Strip are: 867 tons of flour, 153 tons of sugar, 110 tons of rice, 75 tons of different kinds of oil and 49 tons of herbs and vegetables. According to the crossing administration only 15 percent of Gaza needs get in.

A severe shortage of basic medicines is up to 40 percent. Medicines for diabetes, heart, asthma and other chronic diseases are vanished from Gaza. Additionally, other kind of medicines for cancer, Lennar and liver failure face sharp shortages. Sterilization and disinfection and medical equipment and clothes face decrease up to 30 percent. There is a severe shortage of solutions and pigments and laboratory tools. These shortages amounted to 40 percent directly affect patients. Some medical equipment is in bad need of spare parts and maintenance. Due to the siege none of the needs are being met. Children�s incubators are being affected as well. The power cuts and continued blackouts damaged part of the equipment and their programming systems. Damage hit C.T and X-Ray Departments at al Shifa� and European hospitals. These are so crucial to diagnosis of cancer tumors and other diseases. Spare parts for medical telemetry are not available!

It was Israel�s duty to open commercial crossings completely during the calm. But, Israel didn�t abide by that condition as she partially opened them. But within the last week; Israel totally closed them, causing a huge humanitarian crisis. According to UNRWA, around 750,000 of its beneficiaries don�t get their share of food parcels. With the Israeli ban on UNRWA aid, it is ensuring that a dire humanitarian crisis will occur within days. As UNRWA is also under siege from assisting Palestine in humanitarian causes, long time projects such as housing are halted to the loss of $350 million.

Agriculture, animals and poultry are negatively affected by the recent closure as collective punishment. Animals and poultry are being seen as terrorists, the same as Gazans, by Israelis. Gaza needs 150 tons of fodder a day, but in four weeks none has entered. More than a million chickens were killed due to a lack of fodder. Losses amounted to 20 percent due to a lack of vaccines, serums and feed. The Fishing sector lacks natural gas needed for fishing and also the process of incubation is being halted. Agricultural supplies, such as insecticides, seeds and fertilizer, are not available. This negatively affects the sector and already had with the start of siege. Agricultural products are being held in Gaza as Israel has prevented any kind of exports for a year and a half.

The people of Gaza are outraged by the Israelis� collective punishment. I spoke to some Gazan residents and I observed some differences amongst them. Mr. Muhammad who refuses to identity his full name said that this siege is unjust and it�s a way to pressure people to give up their rights.

�We have been patient for 60 years now. We passed more cruel time than this. Thus, why to give up this year? We have to be adamant and patient and the siege will be lifted eventually,� Mr. Muhammad said.

I spoke to a jobless resident from the Al Shati� refugee camp, Mr. Khalil Barakat, who is in his mid 50�s. He says he is outraged by this siege. �I�m fed up, bored; I feel we are caged like animals in Gaza. If I could get a chance to immigrate to live my remaining years in peace, then I would love to,� he said angrily.

Accidentally, I met old friend of mine, Um Muhammad Abu Ouf; a mother in her twenties. It was good for me to explore her views about the siege as well. As a mother and a female, her perspective is most important. We met at 6 pm at AL Omar al Moktar Street which was plunging into deep darkness.

She had outstanding comments about siege. I asked, �How badly you are affected by siege?�

�Well, the siege became a daily nightmare midday and night. Electricity cuts off and that frightens my 11-month infant. It makes conditions unsafe for him. Further, I�m trying to get some fortified food for him. I went to many stores and shops but in vain. I could not find any food nor needed supplies for my son as there is a shortage in a lot of the basic products needed to care for infants, such as milk, diapers and so forth.�

A pessimistic Gazan, Nahed Deeb, told me that a famine is looming as no one is giving a helping hand to Palestinians. �We are slowly dying and no one is taking actions. I lost my work eight years ago and I�m dependant on irregular aids. This is applicable on tens and hundreds of thousands in the normal time. Nevertheless, no longer more poor like me are getting any kind of support.�

The Israeli Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that Gaza crossings would remain closed until further notice. Gazans are to expect more mayhem as time advances. Palestinians aspire to a ceasefire that leads to a complete lifting of the siege imposed more than a year ago. There is no stability in the Israeli political arena. Every Israeli politician is promising and threatening Gaza with a brand new way of torture.

Israelis prevented a Libyan boat loaded with 3,000 tons of food stuff from arriving off the Gaza shore. The Israeli refusal came under the pretext that the boat carried weapons for Palestinians. Within two days, a Qatari boat would set to sail from Cyprus to Gaza carrying more humanitarian aids. Additionally, Turkish, Kuwaiti, Yemani and Jordanian boats planto sail for Gaza soon.

Samah A. Habeeb, B.A., is a photojournalist & peace activist, humanitarian, and child relief worker in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. E-mail: or Web: Daily Photos:

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