Monday, January 17, 2011

Life in Gaza's no-go zone

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – To some residents of the Gaza Strip, the crippling siege which Israel has imposed for over four years means much more than a lack of food, fuel, clothing, work opportunities, and construction material.

Gazan families who live along the border between the coastal enclave and Israel face serious dangers on a daily basis. The gunshots and artillery shells fired from the Israeli side reach farther than the no-go zone set by Israeli forces inside the Strip.

Muhammad Al-Masri lives only 700 meters from the border in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. He says he goes to sleep and wakes up listening to the whizzing of gunshots and the humming of artillery shells.

"From my garden, I can see Israeli military vehicles moving back and forth. The gunfire and the shells that come from those vehicles have several times hit my home and terrified my kids," he told Ma'an.

Damage from gun shots and shrapnel can be seen on the walls of the house and Al-Masri can't repair the cracks. Construction materials have been banned by Israel, but even if he could find cement or concrete, an ordinary citizen like Al-Masri would not have the money to buy it.

"There are several holes and gaps in the house, but there is no cement or concrete to repair them. Add to this that I impose my own curfew on myself and my family at night because who knows when a stray bullet could hit one of us?" says Al-Masri.

"I can't go even one meter away from home. My kids live a state of terror especially after their mother was killed. Where can these kids live if not on their own land?”

Al-Masri’s wife was killed by an Israeli artillery attack on Beit Hanoun.

"I can't tell who is next," he said.