In Gaza last night, while Israeli army forces launched military attacks against Gaza, by sea, air and via artillery shells, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children were unable to sleep inside their roof- tinned homes, clinging to their parents, crying, and terrified. The shelling last night was earth shattering, and went through the entirety of the Gaza strip- at least 100 attacks have already taken place .
In Gaza, we do not have bomb shelters to escape and hide.
In Gaza, these bombs fall on top of our deteriorating economic situation. Unemployment because of the Israeli blockade against civilians is almost 40%. It is Ramadan, making it more difficult to get basic foods, and thousands of government employees cannot reach banks to access their salaries. I know there are internal problems between Fatah and Hamas, but the outcome is hardship, while the bombs keep dropping on top of our heads.
In Gaza, the feeling of insecurity throws its shadow against all of the population, and the military operation continues. With threats of expansion in the coming few days, there is no news about any ceasefire.
Prior to the attack, the local authorities warned the population against swimming in the Mediterranean sea (the only recreational outlet for 1.7 million people). The sea around Gaza has become overly polluted with sewage and wastewater, that the authority, due to lack of fuel, had to pump untreated into the sea.
In Gaza, over 90% of water is unsuitable for drinking.
Through my work at the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), we continue to implement the water purification systems at schools and kindergartens, to provide over 50,000 Palestinian children with clean water. Even though it is the summer holiday, the community had accessibility to our water units in schools, but the attacks make travel dangerous.
In Gaza today, imagine choosing between your child’s thirst and your child’s safety.
Also, at MECA, because of our deep understanding of the poor recreational facilities for Palestinian children, we continue our educational, entertainment and recreational activities, inside our partners’ community centres. It will be even more important during the difficult times ahead, to help the children and attract their attention away of the night shelling. Let the Children Play & Heal is an ongoing program, and I fear that there will be the need for more psycho-social programming, like we did in 2009 and 2012. While we help these children, we take care of the mothers too, via psycho-social trainings that aim to educate women about trauma, and how to deal with family and children during times of crises.
Today, different health facilities announced a need for more emergency supplies, which were already lacking because of the closure of the borders and the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza. Just before the attacks, MECA managed to send some highly needed emergency medications to the Red Crescent Society, but more is needed.
In Gaza, MECA’s team, along with the many humanitarian and health organisations are going through a very difficult situation. We are physically unsafe, and we cannot sleep. But we work hard to support people at this very difficult times.
The streets of Gaza are empty, few cars are here and there, and Israel continues a collective punishment assassination policy demolishing homes by aerial bombardment.
These air raids fall on the majority of the population living in very crowded areas, so while they hit their targets, civilians pay a big price- we have many causalities and the numbers are rising every hour.
In Gaza, it is not a war or a military operation though it may look so. It is collective punishment and it is a brutal attack against all Palestinian people, and mainly civilians are paying the price.
Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. She was born in Khan Younis, Gaza and has dedicated herself to developing community based programs that aim to improve health quality and link health services with cultural and recreation services all over the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra is also the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and a member of the Union of Health Work Committees. Dr. El-Farra has a son and two daughters.
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.