By Sameh A. Habeeb, MMNS Gaza Correspondent
With the last Israeli maneuversâ€™ of tightening the siege imposed on Gaza, more life necessities vanished. The key power plant shut down 25 days ago, resulting in tremendously dire outcomes. More than 75% 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 water treatment 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 big 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 herbs and vegetables. According to the crossing administration, only
15 % of Gaza needs get in.
A severe shortage of basic medicines is up to 40%. Medicines for diabetes, heart, asthma and other chronic diseases are completely unavailable in Gaza. Additionally, other kind of medicines for Cancer, Lennar and liver failure face sharp shortages. Sterilization and Disinfection and medical equipments and clothes face a decrease up to 30%. There is a severe shortage of solutions and pigments, and laboratory tools. These shortages leave 40% of patients directly affected. -Some Medical Machines are in bad need for spare parts and maintenance. Due to the siege, none of the needed aid is being received. Medical machines for gas measurement, and childrenâ€™s incubators, are being blocked as well. The power cuts and continued blackouts damage medical machine parts and programming systems. C.T and X.Ray departments at al Shifaâ€™ and European hospitals are damaged. These are so crucial to diagnosing tumors and other diseases. Even spare parts for medical TVs are not available!
Israel should have opened commercial crossings completely during the calm. But Israel didnâ€™t abide by that condition–only partially opening them. But within the last week; Israel totally closed the crossings, causing a huge humanitarian crisis. According to UNRWA, around 750,000 of its beneficiaries donâ€™t get their devoted 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 term projects like housing are halted to the loss of $350 million.
Farming is one of the most negatively affected areas. Farm animals are not receiving food, under the blockade. Gaza needs 150 tons of animal fodder a day for its livestock, yet for 4 weeks none of it has entered. More than a million chickens have been killed due to lack of fodder.
Losses amounted to 20% due to lack of vaccinations, serums and lack of fodder. The fishing sector lacks natural gas needed for fishing, and also the process of incubation is being halted. Agricultural tools like insecticides, seeds and fertilizer are not available. This negatively affects the sector and already did with the start of the siege. Agricultural products are being held in Gaza as Israel prevents any kind of exportation since a year and a half.
The people of Gaza are outraged by the Israeli collective punishment. I spoke to some Gazan residents and I observed some differences amongst them. Mr. Muhammad, who refuses to give his full name, said that this siege is unjust and itâ€™s a way to pressure people to give up their rights.
â€œWe 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,â€ he said.
I spoke to a jobless resident from Al Shatiâ€™ refugee camp. Mr. Khalil Barakat, who is in his mid 50â€™s, says he is outraged by this siege.
â€œIâ€™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,â€ He said, angrily.
Accidentally, I met an 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 woman, her perspective is most important. We met at 6 pm at Al Omar al Moktar Street, which was plunging into deep darkness.
She had her outstanding comments about siege. I asked: â€œHow badly you are affected by the siege?â€
â€œWell, the siege became a … nightmare midday and night. Electricity cuts off and that frightens my 11-month infant. It makes conditions unsafe for him. … Iâ€™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.â€
Another pessimistic Gazan, Nahed Deeb, told me that a famine is looming, as no one is giving a helping hand for Palestinians.
â€œWe are slowly dying and no one is taking actions. I lost my work 8 years ago and Iâ€™m dependant on irregular aid. 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.â€
The Israeli Defense Ministry announced that Gaza crossings would remain closed til further notice. Gazans are to expect more mayhem as time advances. Palestinians want a ceasefire and a complete lifting of the siege imposed more than a year ago. Clearly, the aspirations of Palestinians are minor considerations, since there is no stability in the Israeli political arena. Every Israeli politician is promising and threatening Gaza of a brand-new way of torture.
Israelis prevented a Libyan boat loaded with 3 thousand tons of food stuff from arriving off the Gaza shore. The Israeli refusal came under a pretext that the boat carries weapons for Palestinians. Within two days, a Qatari boat would set to sail from Cyprus to Gaza carrying more humanitarian aid. Additionally, Turkish, Kuwaiti, Yemani and Jordanian boats are planned to sail for Gaza soon.