Ibrahim, 33

The problem with the blockade began when Hamas was elected to the government and then when they split from Fatah and retained power in Gaza. This has impacted all of my life. It has impacted the lives of all Palestinians. There isn’t a government, I mean there isn’t a government that represents Palestinians.  There is an authority in the West Bank and an authority in Gaza. The powerful keep their place, but we citizens suffer.   

For example, while I work as a farmer, I graduated from university with a degree in politics, but there were no jobs so I was forced to work as a farmer on my family land.   

Our farm is located in the buffer zone where the Israeli army enters regularly with bulldozers. They destroy the whole area completely. We had irrigation systems, trees, greenhouses—all of it destroyed.  Our land was partially damaged in 2008, but everything was destroyed in 2014.  I lost my source of income. 

Ibrahim's one room home
Since 2007, Gaza’s gross domestic product (GDP) has shrunk by 50 percent. Average income is now at least 31 percent lower than it was in 1994.

There is nothing to allow us to recover. Farming won’t help us recover. There is no assistance for us to recover. We grew tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini in greenhouses and had a chicken farm, but it was all destroyed.   

The problem with farming isn’t just the destruction. There are no exports, and we suffer from a lack of water, raw materials, seeds, and more. The blockade limits the quality of seeds that can be imported and the resources we can import. This impacts quality.   

It wasn’t only our farm that was destroyed, my home was also destroyed.  Since then I have lived in a one room shack with my wife and two children.  My father’s house has now been rebuilt, but I still live with my family in this one room. Living in this shack has impacted my children. We have a corrugated metal roof, and the heat has affected my son’s health.  

I haven’t received assistance to rebuild and my family is not on any lists for receiving assistance to rebuild.  We aren’t on a list because the Ministry of Public Works prioritizes rebuilding for families with seven or 10 members; a family with four members isn’t prioritized. I don’t expect to rebuild for three or four years.   

Outside of Gaza, you need to understand that the blockade targets everyone--civilians, women, children, everyone.  As people without jobs, without opportunities, without futures, what do you outside of here expect from us?