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This media offensive bore fruit last summer with the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader. Since then the new military Egyptian authorities have been concentrating with much fanfare on smashing armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula and the tunnels that connect it to Gaza leading to a strict closure of the territory. As a result people’s lives in this Mediterranean strip have deteriorated drastically.
Gaza Palestinians are going through some of the darkest days since an international boycott was imposed on Hamas after it won Parliamentary elections in 2006. Dark is quite the apt adjective since the electricity outages have reached unprecedented levels. Also the rise of the price of petrol—which has more than doubled—is compounded with the almost complete lack of employment opportunities, as well as the inability to leave this territory.
I recently spent three weeks in the territory in which I lived for almost two years during the second intifada, have visited regularly and followed closely since. I have been reminded in almost every conversation that existence is unbearable.
Vehicles in Gaza are often reduced to running on vegetable oil and butane gas, actually cooking gas cylinders that are being fed into Jerry-rigged engines. The fumes together with the dust-heavy air have made my eyes permanently irritated. The dirt and disorder of Gaza’s streets is also an eyesore.
“So, is Gaza beautiful?” I was asked daily multiple times, with a heavy dose of sarcasm. It’s a reminded of how painfully aware Gazans are of their miserable living conditions.
The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are suffocating — and Egypt and Israel have thrown the keys into the sea. This territory is being subjected to the strictest of de facto sanctions, with the complicity of the international community.
For now, the Hamas government has done what it could to stop militant organizations from firing rockets against Israel, like the volleys that provoked Israel to launch the one-sided eight-day war in 2012 that killed 158 Palestinians and reduced swaths of Gaza to ruins. But if the blockade continues with this intensity, something is likely to snap. And the last thing Gaza needs right now is another massive Israeli military offensive.