Gaza resident Nasser Hammad is director of the Strategic Studies and Documentation Center in Gaza, and a freelance journalist. The Alternative Information Center (AIC) spoke to Nassar about Gazans’ daily life under attack, and how they see the near future.
What is the predominant feeling in Gaza today?
That we have no security. It is clear that most targets of the Israeli attacks are civilian. A few of far too many example: the Kaware family lost seven members when the air force attacked their home in Khan Younis – can you imagine a mother and three of her children being killed together? The family of Hafez Hamad in Beit Hanoun lost six family members in the same attack, and a similar tragedy happened to the Dar el Samman family in the Jabalya refugee camp. It is a real massacre. Any and all homes in all areas of the Gaza Strip are under threat. The skies over Gaza are swarming with air force planes and drones; many people spend most of their time outside the home, waiting to see what will occur.
How are people managing on a daily basis? It is now Ramadan; are goods available in the markets and shops?
As a journalist I am constantly moving and meeting new people. I can categorically state that daily life is even more of a struggle than usual. Since passages to both Egypt and Israel are closed, there is a shortage of food and daily needs as we must import most things from outside of Gaza.
Even food grown here is going to waste, as farmers cannot go to their fields to harvest and market their produce; agricultural fields and orchards are being constantly attacked by Israel. Last week several women went to harvest potatoes in the Braij area, for example, and were attacked by the air force.
This shortage of daily necessities means that prices have increased, and this is particularly true for fruits and vegetables, meat and chicken.
During its attacks on Gaza in 2012, Israel targeted and killed a large number of farm animals. Farmers were then reluctant to rebuild their livestock, preferring instead to buy imported meat instead of taking another risk.
And concerning daily life, it’s important to remember that most people in Gaza are not receiving salaries. Apart from the large number of unemployed persons, Palestinian Authority staff in Gaza work but don’t receive their salaries due to a political problem between Gaza and Ramallah. The hope had been, of course, that formation of the Palestinian unity government would solve this problem weeks ago. This situation has pushed some people to attack several banks in Gaza; other banks have simply closed due to the Israeli attacks.
What about electricity and fuel? We hear about severe shortages.
Electricity is on for eight hours and off for eight hours, and this is the best case scenario. Hospitals are forced to use generators to ensure a constant supply of electricity for life-saving medical equipment.
Our severe lack of petrol means that many people are now using bicycles and animals to move around. We are attempting to save the little petrol we have for crucial services such as ambulances.
How do people analyse the current situation? How are and will they deal with possible escalation?
Many Palestinians in Gaza didn’t believe that Israel would invade with ground forces, although it did; local residents now believe that the war will not be quick. However, they strongly believe in resistance. The spirit of Gazans is very strong and proud of resistance.
Of course people know how difficult and bad the current situation is, but their previous experiences have been those of an imposed siege, smaller daily attacks and larger attacks every several years. Resistance is strong and will continue.
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