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Life in Palestine

When wars are fought, they don’t affect just one side of the border or any one nationality, they affect all of humankind. The loss of life is not limited to just Palestine or Israel. It shows the true extent of humane ugliness and how far some power-hungry people are willing to go to satisfy their ambitions. Amidst these wars, civilians have been uprooted from their homes and ancestral lands. Children have been snatched away from their innocent childhoods and families are torn apart. Bombings are a normal sighting in these cities. At least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 76,575 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7. In response to Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October, Israel began a “complete siege” of Gaza, with the Israeli defense minister declaring: “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel”.

A Palestinian doctor had to identify the body of one of his sons, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, in the hospital where he worked. Dr Mohammed Abu Moussa has spent the past week treating Gazan civilians injured in the occupation which has killed at least 35,000 Palestinians up till now. During a shift at the ER, his own family was brought to the hospital after their home was bombed.

Gaza has one of the highest population densities in the world with 2.2 million people living in a relatively small strip of land. On top of that, constant bombings and drone attacks have destroyed more than half of Gaza’s infrastructure. If you were to walk the streets of this once beautiful place, you’d see the residential areas and shopping streets reduced to rubble. About 1.7 million people – more than 80% of Gaza’s population – are displaced, with nearly half crammed up in the far southern end of the strip, according to the UN. 

Electricity was already scarce in Gaza as it was only supplied for a few hours on a rolling blackout, and after the occupation major institutions like hospitals had installed backup generators but the blockade meant no more fuel to run them once the existing supplies ran out, and to top it, the World Health Organization (WHO) says there have been more than 600 attacks on healthcare facilities and the majority of hospitals in Gaza are not functioning. The medical situation in Gaza’s hospitals has crossed the“unimaginable” state where large open wounds are being left untreated and medical staff are facing chronic shortages of the most basic medical items. The hospital’s spokesperson said there was no room in the morgue for all the bodies, and a lack of Islamic burial shrouds — known as the Kafan — to give the dead a proper burial.

Because of the “complete siege” announced by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has control over electricity, food, water, and fuel. Clean water is already scarce and Israeli airstrikes are destroying water infrastructure. WHO sets the minimum requirement for daily water needs at 100 litres per person but the average water consumption in Gaza has reduced to just three litres per person, estimated by WHO. The border has been opened a couple of times to send around 20 trucks carrying food, water, and medicine – but no fuel – into Gaza. To try to get around the blockade, Hamas built a network of tunnels that it uses to bring goods into the Strip from Egypt. Israel says militants also use the tunnels to smuggle weapons and move around out of sight and so it is frequently targeted by airstrikes.

There are increasing concerns over dehydration and waterborne diseases. Local water pumps and sewage systems require fuel to function. As a result, wastewater treatment plants have stopped working, resulting in tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage being pumped into the sea. 

According to Dr Iman Farajallah, children who survive wars pay a high price psychologically, emotionally, or behaviourally. Her research discovered that 95 percent of children from the Gaza Strip showed symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. Children in Gaza are not able to attend school because of military actions and they have limited access to essential school supplies.

“But with little food, children are malnourished, and with drones buzzing overhead 24 hours a day it’s affecting their sleep – they can’t concentrate, their childhood is shattered.” Dr Farajallah has observed children playing games involving Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.“Here, they hold sticks and pretend they are guns,” she said. Every child displays trauma in their way. Trauma affects cognitive behavior, it affects functioning, how can we ignore that? Living in a war zone – for generations will affect you,” Dr Farajallah said, adding that violent upbringings will lead to more violence. 

Despite these horrific conditions, Palestinians are banned from leaving Gaza via Israel unless they obtain an Israeli-issued exit permit. Israel has shut the Erez crossing, and the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border crossing in the south has also been closed due to Israeli airstrikes near the gate on the Palestinian side. The latter had prevented humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medicines, from crossing from Egypt into Gaza.

Jazbia Junaid is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Yash Mittal

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Written by Jazbia Junaid

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