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Gaza struggles under blockade

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that Gaza is at risk of systemic collapse as it struggles on with barely any electricity.Ongoing divisions between Fatah and Hamas mean that t

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Gaza struggles under blockade

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Gaza is at risk of “systemic collapse” warns the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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"The siege has stopped all forms of life in Gaza"

Mohamad Al Saiqaly Student at Al Azhar University

Power shortages mean that Gaza’s sewage treatment plants are no longer functioning, resulting in sewage being pumped directly into the sea. This deprives people of their beaches, which are their most important recreational areas, but, more worryingly, means that its fish are no longer safe to eat.

Iyad Baker, a Gaza fisherman, described the restrictions that he now faces:

“In the past we were allowed to sail up to 12 nautical miles, and we were suffering from a lack of distance, Today only three nautical miles are allowed, and in reality even this distance is not allowed because it’s only for the benefit of the media, In fact they chase us before we have covered two miles.”

Electricity shortages

The electricity shortages are the result of ongoing tensions between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, and deadlock with Israel.

The power-generating authority in Gaza says that taxes imposed by the Palestinian Authority mean that it can no longer afford to run the power plant. The Palestinian Authority says that Hamas officials in Gaza are simply incapable of operating the plant.

Whatever the cause, the people of Gaza are being forced to cope with just three hours of unscheduled electricity in every 16-hour period.

With the Palestinian Authority threatening to stop paying Israel for the 30% of Gaza’s electricity that it currently provides, people could soon be left without any electricity at all.

A life of hardship

It is difficult to earn a living whilst Gaza is blockaded.

Ammar Al Rahel, a farmer, describes the shrinking of his livelihood:

“I can’t bring workers to work with me, I have stopped all workers because of the loss of income, I just work with my children, maybe next year I won’t be able to plant. I am praying to God that things will get better and get back to how they were ten years ago: planting and exporting our products, with the Israeli and Egyptian checkpoints open again.”

Azmi Keshawi, who is International Crisis Group’s only representative in Gaza, wrote to his colleagues that:

“So soon we might start getting zero electricity, if the announcements by Israel and the PA are carried out. If this happens, the deterioration of every aspect of life in Gaza will be rapid. Nothing in Gaza can sustain such pressure: neither the failing economy nor the dilapidated infrastructure.”

A bleak future

Inevitably, the practical hardships of daily life have had a significant impact on the morale of the people of Gaza, with young people particularly affected.

Student Mohamad Al Saiqaly, said that:

“As young people and citizens of Gaza we feel that there is no horizon, we do not expect things will get better because of the blockade, Thousands of graduates here think that the future is bleak because the siege has stopped all forms of life in Gaza.”

Experts have been expressing concern that, with no resolution between Fatah and Hamas in sight, a new war could break out.

Earlier this year, Israel’s controversial defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that in any future war over the Gaza strip, the Israeli Defence Force would not give up until Hamas surrendered.

Reporting from Gaza, euronews’ Joanna Gill says:

“2017 is an important year for Palestinians, it marks 10 years of the blockade and 50 years since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Both time and patience are running out for the people of Gaza, held hostage by internal divisions and diplomatic stalemate with Israel.”