// Missing in Gaza...Bread:(
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« on: Nov 27, 2008 02:59 AM »


By  Ola Attallah, IOL Correspondent
 
 
Bread has become something of a rarity in the impoverished territory of 1.6 million.
 
GAZA CITY — Abu-Samir Nafei is desperate.
The father of seven toured Gaza City for hours trying to buy bread for his hungry children back home.

"I sought every single bakery around, and in each time the answer is the same: 'sorry no bread'," he told IslamOnline.net.

"It was like searching for a hidden treasure."

Bread has become something of a rarity in the impoverished Gaza Strip, home to 1.6 million, under Israel's stifling blockade of fuel, power and food supplies.

The majority of Gaza bakeries have shut down, and even those still powered are hit by severe shortages of wheat.

"About 30 of a total 47 bakeries in Gaza have closed," said Abdul-Nasser Al Ajrami, head of the Association of Bakeries in the Gaza Strip.

"They started grinding secondary wheat, originally used for birds and animals, to meet the demands of the hungry population," he added.

"Ever since I have heard about this, I stopped even trying to search for bread," said Salma, a civil servant.

"Words like tragedy and catastrophe cannot even come close to explaining our situation."

Despite international criticism, Israel refuses to open commercial crossings with the densely populated territory, locked up since November 4.

The closure has again highlighted the plight of people in the overcrowded sliver of land whose economy has been crippled by a blockade Israel imposed after Hamas seized power in June 2007.

On Tuesday, Gaza's sole power plant, which provides 25 to 30 percent of the energy used in the territory, ground to a halt after frequent shutdowns caused by fuel shortages damaged parts of the production units that cannot be replaced because of the blockade.

Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel's fuel and power cuts to the people of Gaza as a violation of the law of war.

Stone Age

Om Ghaleb's house has been bread-empty for long days.

"I had no other choice but to change our eating habits and feed my family anything that does not need bread with it."

But for others, bread was so indispensable that they had to turn to Stone Age solutions.

"I can't just do nothing," said a resourceful Om Saher, another Gaza mother who decided to bake using primitive wood fire ovens.

"I get whatever wheat I can find and bake my own bread."

Many Gazans have now turned to baking in fire ovens they build inside their homes or on rooftops.

Building a wood fire oven usually costs about $20.

Donkeys loaded with dry branches and firewood has become a common sight in Gaza streets.

After his failed bread hunt, Abu Samir, the father of seven, also plans to build his own fire oven.

"It's the only solution left to feed our kids," his wife Suhad told IOL.

Yet, she knows that the fire oven will not end their problem if Israel continues to block food, including wheat, supplies.

"Things are just getting from bad to worse and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel."
 
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 01, 2008 05:43 PM »

salaam

Islam online has a special page on Gazans. It has many news and info on them.

Its called GAZANS The Worlds Largest Open Air Prison

http://www.islamonline.net/English/In_Depth/MuslimAffairs/Gaza/index.shtml
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 10, 2008 03:04 AM »

from amnesty.org

Gaza reduced to bare survival

Palestinians hold candles as they march during demonstration against Israeli fuel cut, Gaza City, 19 Nov 2008

© AP Photo/Adel Hana



A Palestinian pharmacist serves a customer during a routine power outage in Gaza City, 26 October 2007

© AP/PA Photo/Hatem Moussa


5 December 2008

The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is having ever more serious consequences on its population. In the past month the supply of humanitarian aid and basic necessities to Gaza has been reduced from a trickle to an intermittent drip.

The blockade has become tighter than ever since the breakdown of a five-and-a-half-month ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants on 5 November.

"The Israeli authorities might be allowing through enough for the survival of Gaza's population, but this is nowhere near enough for the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza to live with dignity," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

As supplies are being further withheld, most mills have shut down because they have little or no grain. People who have long been deprived of many food items now cannot even find bread at times.

Reserves of food have long been depleted and the meagre quantities allowed into Gaza are not even enough to meet the immediate needs. Families never know if they will have food for their children the following day.

When people do have food, they generally have no cooking gas or electricity with which to cook it. Last week, less than 10 per cent of the weekly requirement of cooking gas was allowed into Gaza.

“This is entirely a man-made crisis. Desperately needed supplies are languishing in aid agencies’ warehouses a few kilometres away, even though they’re ready to be dispatched,” said Donatella Rovera. "The only obstacle is a gate that is kept locked by the Israeli army. There is no acceptable reason to deny passage to essential humanitarian aid and necessities"

Shortages of fuel, electricity and spare parts are causing water and sanitation infrastructure and other crucial services to deteriorate a bit more every day. Eighty per cent of the wells are now only functioning at reduced capacity and water supply is only available for a few hours every few days.

At times when water is available, there is no electricity or fuel to pump it into apartment buildings. Shortages of chlorine increase the risk of waterborne diseases.

Routine blackouts disrupt every aspect of life for everyone. Hospitals are struggling to power life-saving machinery and it is ever more difficult to maintain laundry and other essential services.

Even patients in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, are often denied passage out of Gaza. Scores of people have died in the past year when they could have been saved if only they had been allowed to travel.

Karima Abu Dalal, a 34-year-old mother of five young children, died on 25 November. She suffered from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands that is curable in more than 90 per cent of cases.  She was denied access to the treatment she desperately needed as Israel refused her a permit to travel to the hospital in Nablus in the West Bank in November 2007.

In a medical report accompanying  her permit request an Israeli cancer specialist had written: "This is a young woman who will die in the absence of treatment and with treatment her chances of recovery are excellent" (underlined in the original).

The Israeli authorities nonetheless refused to let her leave Gaza and the Israeli High Court of Justice refused to intervene. Earlier this year, she eventually managed to leave Gaza to Egypt as an exceptional case, but by then her condition had deteriorated irreparably and she returned to Gaza to be with her family. Subsequent requests for her to travel to Israel to receive at least palliative care to relieve her pain were in vain.

"So long as the Israeli authorities and armed forces control Gaza’s land borders, airspace and territorial waters, they have responsibilities under international law to ensure the welfare of Gaza’s civilian population. At present, Israel is not fulfilling its responsibilities," said Donatella Rovera.

Israeli forces have killed some 20 Palestinians, mostly militants, but including two children, in air strikes and other attacks since 4 November. Palestinian armed groups have resumed firing rockets from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns and villages, injuring two Israeli civilians and several soldiers.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Palestinian armed groups, including the armed militias of the Hamas de-facto administration in Gaza, to put an end to the launching of rockets, which are indiscriminate and endanger the lives of Israeli civilians.

"Targeting civilians can never be justified, no matter what the reason invoked. Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups must immediately cease attacks and actions which put the lives of the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Israel at risk," said Donatella Rovera.
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