Life in the Gaza Strip — A Cauldron of Deficit, Despair and Desperation


The Los Angeles Times quotes USCPR Executive Director Yousef Munayyer in a piece that details the appalling humanitarian situation being endured by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, due to more than a decade of Israeli siege, repeated bombings, and deliberate destruction of infrastructure.

Adding to the frustration is the knowledge that the situation in Gaza was once much better, said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a nationwide coalition in the United States of more than 300 organizations working to advocate for Palestinian rights. “At one point everybody had electricity. Everybody had running water, [working] toilets … these kinds of things. It’s not that it never got to that stage of development.”

“Gaza is a place that has been testing the limits of what the minimum level of sustainability is before a total humanitarian catastrophe,” Munayyer said. “We inch closer every day to finding where that threshold is.”

About 46% the population in Gaza, which covers 141 square miles, is without work. The statistic stands at 64% among young people under the age of 25, and at 77% for women within that group. And unemployment is rising, according to U.N. officials.

“A lot of these industries that you could rely on to produce and generate some independent dynamism for the economy have also suffered because of the siege policy,” Munayyer said.

Entire industries have collapsed within the Gaza Strip. Farming areas along the perimeter of the strip have been ruined by the siege and three recent wars with Israel, in 2009, 2012 and 2014.

“Much of the agricultural land has been destroyed by frequent invasion of heavily armored vehicles or is off-limits to Palestinians because the Israelis enforce a buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip,” Munayyer said.

The fishing industry has been central to Gaza for hundreds of years because of the region’s proximity to the coast, but fishermen are not permitted to go beyond three nautical miles because of a naval blockade, he said.

“So now in recent years, for the first time in history, the primary source of fish in the Gaza Strip is no longer fresh-caught fish, but farmed fish on land, because there’s an overfishing problem within the 3-nautical-mile limit,” Munayyer said. “Many of the species the fishermen go after is beyond that mark now.”

Read the article.