Photo: Suhair Karam/IRIN
|With more than 50 percent unemployment in Gaza, sifting through rubble for metal has become for some a means of getting by|
GAZA, 29 March 2010 (IRIN) – When Israel pulled its occupying troops out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, many thought it would be the start of a new era for the 1.5 million residents of this tiny territory, just 40km long and 10km wide.
However, Israel continued to control Gaza’s borders, air space and waters, and in mid-2007 imposed an economic blockade after the Islamic resistance movement Hamas took over the government, and rockets continued to be fired into Israel.
Since then the Strip’s population has been relying on just a fraction of the imported supplies it received in December 2005, causing severe shortages of medicines, fuel and construction materials, among other items.
Israel only allows in basic humanitarian items and bans virtually all exports, paralyzing the economy and causing the deterioration of sewage treatment systems, as well as waste collection, water supply and medical facilities.
The UN has repeatedly called for the lifting of the blockade on humanitarian grounds.
From 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 Israel went to war with Hamas in Gaza after an escalation of violence between the two sides. Over 1,000 Gazans were killed, more than 5,000 wounded, over 50,000 were displaced, and over 4,000 homes totally destroyed.
Gazans are still picking up the pieces from last year’s war and there are high levels of poverty, deprivation and unemployment. With the imminent completion of an Egyptian above-and-below-ground steel barrier to prevent a thriving tunnel economy between Egypt and Gaza, residents are worried they will become almost completely reliant on aid.
IRIN’s photogallery offers a glimpse into life on the Strip.