Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Gazans Are Besieged in the Aftermath of Israel's 2014 Invasion

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Gazans Are Besieged in the Aftermath of Israel's 2014 Invasion

Article excerpt

The final panel, "Gaza in the Aftermath of the 2014 Israeli Invasion," featured panelists who have been to Gaza and worked on the ground with local residents and various non-profit organizations.

Laila El-Haddad, a social media activist and co-author of Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (available from AET's Middle East Books and More), gave a short illustration of what it is like to be in Gaza these days. "We are talking here about a very closed off, very isolated, very besieged, very surveilled piece of territory that is largely refugees," she stated. Most Palestinians who live in Gaza are not actually from Gaza. As refugees they are entitled to certain protection and rights-that, obviously, are not being afforded them, El-Haddad said. Israel restricts its fishermen from going more than three nautical miles out to sea, and farmers don't have access to fields, which has led to a situation that the U.N. calls "fishing without water, farming without land."

El-Haddad went on to explain how Israel has targeted Gaza's productive sector-a quarter of the targets the Israelis hit were agricultural infrastructure. "Greenhouses, irrigation, these were also obliterated, rendering 44 percent of Gaza uninhabitable," she said.

Ending on a positive note, El-Haddad addressed ways in which Gazans are coping with what they have left. "This man had 500 acres of his land destroyed, but there he was at a farmer's union learning how he could rebuild," she said. People are recycling demolished houses and resorting to using clay ovens. There is a massive government-run initiative for organic and sustainable agriculture in Gaza. In addition, El-Haddad said, women's role in society is transforming as "women are becoming breadwinners in their families."

Bill Corcoran, CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) discussed the hardships faced by nonprofits working in Gaza. Organizations undertaking reconstruction projects need to go through a daunting and expensive process set up by the Israeli government. In addition to submitting a proposal plan for every building, all materials used for home construction must be purchased from Israel and later stored in a special warehouse that is monitored 24/7. An Israeli-devised system called the General Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) then decides whether to even approve the construction.

In addition, items imported to Gaza need to be accompanied by forms justifying why they aren't dual military usage. …

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