Ehab Baker, 37

"The area where my shop was located was one of the areas bombed."

I never thought I would reach the point where I would need to beg for a cigarette. 

I finished high school in 1997, and the economic situation was better after the Palestinian Authority took control. I started to import ceramics and health products in 2005, which is when I decided to open my own ceramic shop. I did this after working to save a substantial amount of money and familiarizing myself with the market and wholesalers in that field. My goal was to build a strong reputation in business, and I spent almost $25,.000 to equip and open the shop. 

My shop opened in May 2005, and I did not expect the worst. But then the legislative council elections took place in 2006, and Hamas won. Other countries boycotted the new government. Then the Israeli soldier Shalit was kidnapped and the blockade started. 

That is also when my catastrophe started.  I was still new in the business world, and I was no longer selling any products, but I had commitments to the suppliers and my business fell far behind. 

Then the war of 2008 started with bombing all over Gaza. The area where my shop was located was one of the areas bombed. My shop and my dreams both disappeared into thin air in a matter of seconds.

Average income is now at least 31% lower than it was in 1994.

When groups started to compensate people they only compensated people who lost capital and property; they didn’t help those who only lost merchandise. I went bankrupt and could not find money to either pay my increasing debts or support my household and children. 

I went to work for another businessman, but due to the generally dire situation I could not find a good opportunity, not even temporary work or day labor for less than $10 per day.   

Today, I live beneath the poverty line. I have failed as a husband and father to bring food to the table for my wife and children. 

This is all due to the blockade, which can be described as nothing other than a plague.

 

Help unlock Gaza: Contact Congress today, and urge them to take action to end the blockade.