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Is Israel planning a new war on Gaza?

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Palestinians cover a zinc sheeted house in Gaza with a plastic sheet to keep out the rain. (Image via https://sg.news.yahoo.com. Photo: Khalil Hamra)

Is Israel's new threat of another war on Gaza a plan to drag Palestinians into armed violence to end the current wave of popular resistance? Dr Ibrahim Natil reports.

After 10 years of blockade, Gazans live without basic needs in severe winter

Today 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza Strip live with only with three hours electricity per day while Israel prepares for next round of war on the Strip. I challenge anyone in this civilized world to live with three hours electricity a day. It is impossible to accommodate severe and dark winter living in zinc houses, without basic needs.

Zinc houses or “caravans”

Since the 2014 war on Gaza, thousands of families have been living in so called “caravans”. They are not standard caravans, well-equipped with all necessary mod cons as we know in the West. They aren’t mobile  “caravans” for fun and travel trips. It is made of zinc and built in the shape of a house, but it is not fit for human beings.

These families were affected by the last Israeli military operation during the summer of 2014, which left them homeless. The Israeli military operation left 19,000 homes destroyed, 100,000 Gazans homeless and over 2,100 dead. This operation created a new environment of destruction, family displacement, and overloaded surviving families with devastating psychological problems.

The displaced families still live in very miserable and risky circumstances and they cannot cope with the coldness of winter or the heat of summer. Their zinc houses are unsuitable for human beings at all levels. Local campaigners from various social backgrounds have just launched #darkwinter to support the right of families who lost their houses to rebuild their homes. See #darkwinter Facebook here.

They have been waiting for recovery and rebuilding process of their houses according to the UN plan that it is controlled by Israeli forces occupation. Israel decides the quantity of cement and other materials for Gaza Strip.

It is a very complicated and slow “recovery process” while the thousands of women, disabled, children and the elderly face severe weather and lack of basic human needs including electricity and clean water.

However, the youth are still hopeful for change and are influencing the speedy recovery and rebuilding. One example is Society Voice Foundation Gaza based organization launched its local and international project to support needs of displaced families.

The charger in the pocket

A friend of mine, Sami, still lives in Gaza Strip. Sami witnessed three subsequent Israeli military operations there and told me via the phone:

This is the worse winter we have. It is very cold with no electricity to get little heat to warm up or little light to accommodate ourselves and children. We wait the day to rise up even it is not warm. We wait it desperately to see our pains and suffering. We dislike the night despite the fact we need it to relax and sleep.

Our children are not used to this weather with no electricity. We are used to live without enough electricity, but not like this season without electricity together.

The school of Gaza Strip also closed for few hours to avoid the wave of coldness.

Sami adds bitterly

”I carry my charger in the pocket wherever I go to be ready any moment to the power back to charge my mobile. If I go to a friend house, relatives or work or walk in the street I carry the charger in the pocket. This is our story and life in brief.”

Unfortunately, women also have to wake up at 2 am to use the electricity to operate washing machines or prepare their household needs. Sabreen is a mother of four who lives with her unemployed husband in the Gaza Strip is a case that represents most families there.

UNRWA also launched a campaign to assist Palestinian families with non-food items and plastic sheets. This winter, Sabreen’s house floods and they cannot afford to buy their children suitable winter clothes.

“It is heart-breaking for me to see my children coming home from school shaking from the cold because they do not have.”

The pupils also do their homework at the light of candles while many children died because of the fires caused by the candles.

Sudden death

Today is the 10th anniversary of blockade on the Gaza Strip. Teenagers have grown up and were educated in an environment of destruction, violence and the absence of basic human needs. However, they still believe in the values of human rights, freedom and dignity. During this month, more than four youths under 30 years died suddenly and unexpectedly from heart attacks.

They were not suffering from any disease at all. They were very fit healthy, cultivated and educated people. They only suffered hopeless circumstances of lack of job opportunities, an uncertain future and a high level of poverty and misery. 

The slow recovery is another serious challenge facing youth ability to play a real role in the life. Many youth need desperately to rebuild their demolished homes and get a job. All ordinary youth in Gaza dream of living in peace and security. The security environment in the Gaza Strip is very fragile due to the on-going suffering from the latest war.

During the last few days, Israeli media have produced frequent reports that it is preparing to launch a new war on Gaza, using the dramatic changes in the region. The Israeli media used the same justifications and arguments they did before the last three military operations, accusing the armed groups of building tunnels and training on new equipment.

It has been the old story of justification since 2010 when Israel killed more than 5,000 people and destroyed thousands of houses and displaced 100,000 families. It is clear that Israel does not want political compromises. It only wants to drag the Palestinian groups into armed violence to end the current wave of popular resistance.

The Palestinians don’t need a new war. They need to live in dignity and freedom in their own Palestinian independent state.

Dr. Ibrahim Natil is International Human Rights Campaigner. Dr. Natil also is a visiting Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin (UCD).

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