Fallout From The Egyptian Crisis Affecting The People of Gaza

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August 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary 

By Mohammad S. Arafat

 

July 3, 2013, anti-Morsi demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square

The Gaza strip, a besieged part of Palestine, is the most populous place in the world–it has some 1.79 million people, or about 2,600 people per kilometer.

There’s always something going wrong here. There’s constant crisis, and it’s probably more affected by its neighbors than most lands. Once this wasn’t true. Before the occupation in 2006, after the election which closed both the Israeli and Egyptian ports we had access to, the quality of our life plummeted.

There are more sick people, more poor people, and more suffering–with our neighbors hardly helping us. And we have Israel, which assaults us. Still, most  Gazans remain religious, praying daily and nightly to Allah and being patient in our belief we have not lost Allah’s mercy.  We say that Allah is with us and will not forget us.

Gazans are a literate people–97 percent of us can read and write. There are many geniuses among us, and we’re clever. Most of the goods we import and export get to their destinations by underground passages. They are called Gaza tunnels. Many people outside of Gaza have admired how we persevere, despite all.

The tunnels were our link to the outside world. Everything from major to minor goods came to us through those tunnels. We got the fuel for our power stations from those tunnels. We were getting cement from those tunnels, something which we hadn’t had for four years. We even exported some goods through those tunnels. People even traveled in and out of Gaza through those tunnels. In a very real sense, those tunnels fed and served us.

So you can see that we were directly affected by the events in Egypt. We all remember when the Egyptians made their great January 25 Revolution in 2011. They made President Mubarak step down. But now Egyptians were protesting to oust Mohammad Morsi and they did. But for us the problem is Egypt is divided into two camps–Morsi supporters and Morsi opponents. All of this affects Gaza.

As a result of the tunnels being blocked, including even the Rafah crossing point which opened only recently, we are suddenly suffering from no gasoline or other fuels, cement or other goods.

Without gasoline, our factories, power stations and cars and boats can’t be operated. You’ll see many cars and vans that have been abandoned because the drivers can’t get gasoline. Even ambulances can’t operate. Factories and bakeries have stopped. There are few vehicles on our streets now.  Most ambulances and fire trucks have stopped suddenly.  Many factories and bakeries have stopped working. The streets in Gaza became empty of vehicles and even of people. Our nearly 4000 fishermen can’t work for lack of gasoline. Most of them have big families, and hundreds of other workers are sidelined.

Many fishermen stayed home because of lacking the petrol for their boats. There are about 3700 fishermen who have stopped working and they have big families who need food daily and there are hundreds of other workers who have stopped working as well these  days.

The lack of fuel has affected our homes. Without power, people make fires and often times children are gagging on the smoke, and some die because they are having to use candles for illumination. Many children have died from using fire and candles.

Many other homes don’t have wood for fire.

Sometimes the tunnels have reopened, depending on events in Egypt, or the blocking of ports from both sides. Without basic supplies, starvation and poverty is going to increasingly grow.

About 70 percent of what we need in Gaza comes by tunnel. When those things are flowing, employees get new jobs with good salaries and they can easily feed their families. But now 95 percent of the workers have no jobs, no money.

The people in Gaza are asking the world to look at what is happening, and somehow help. People are dying now, and far more will die without some help. We hope to get answers soon.

Please pray for Gaza.

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