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Personal Account — Visit to Gaza

Thus my long awaited journey to Gaza was now two hours behind schedule and had to end in a few hours. As we were rushing through to our first stop, I could not help notice the devastation and destruction. Countless buildings reduced to rubble, the streets were full of potholes and the rubble piled both sides of the narrow streets, mule and horse carriages filled the narrow streets slowing traffic on whatever is left of the various roads to a standstill. Sand and dust filled the streets and there were no clear signs of any cleanup after the war. Little did I know, but a lot is being forced due to lack of building supplies, asphalt, equipment, and spare parts. One common sight was children and youth colleting the remains of building bricks from the devastation of shelled buildings, which are now being primitively recycled to be used to build again. I am not an engineer, but I am almost certain that such recycled building blocks will be extremely unsafe to use. However, the continued blockade left very little choice to people who want to use their creativity under the harsh blockade conditions Gaza continues to endure with no supplies going in.

As we were getting close to our first destination, I could notice grocery stores filled with goods and an increasing number of cars on the same devastated roads. I questioned these two relatively positive indicators, and the quick answer came from my hosts that the many tunnels from the Egyptian side of Rafah to the Palestinian side is what stocks the shops with basic food commodities, but they were quick to point out that everything is so much more expensive given that such goods are smuggled in and thus the “transportation” costs are very high since many end up paying with their lives smuggling such goods through the primitive unsafe tunnels. As for the increasing number of cars I see on the road, again this was due to the fuel that is smuggled from Egypt. I was told that gas costs a mere NIS 1.30 per liter (we pay NIS 6.5 per liter in Jerusalem)!! Of course not all of it is good news, since the quality of such fuel is well below standard and this means frequent visits to car mechanics to clear clogged carburetors, which drives the maintenance costs up.

Mother and Child Clinic at Shajaia

As we were getting close to our first destination, being the Mother and Child Clinic which we re-established as a result of the complete destruction of the previous clinic which we subsidized, I asked to stop at the site of the destructed clinic. To my amazement, it is an empty lot surrounded by three buildings, one on each side and one behind the lot. I asked my host if the other three standing building are new construction, and the answer was that all three buildings were there when the clinic was demolished by a missile, and it was clear that the only building in the neighborhood that was targeted was the clinic. Until today, no one has any logical explanation as to why a clinic that is clearly marked would get demolished completely in the middle of the night only eight days before the war ended in January 2009? After surveying the site and its surroundings we got back into the car for a short drive to the next block where the new Clinic proudly stood.

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