The Safi family moved the other day into a cramped 3 room apartment in Jabaliya camp. Their formerly spacious home in Beit Lahia will not be re-built in the near future, like the estimated 4,000 other homes destroyed by Israel’s war on Gaza.
Finding a flat to rent was a challenging task as the need for temporary housing is high. Challenging also because prices have gone up and the Safis are without income.
The apartment they found is bare-bones –completely unfurnished, walls tarnished with age and water stains –and lies down the tight corridors which are characteristic of a refugee camp. In the 2 days during which the family cleaned and moved in, they acquired a gas burner and a refrigerator, along with some mats for the floor, a few mattresses, and blankets. The essentials to survive where nights are still frigid. But everything from their former life is lost, destroyed, a wreckage of memories under the rubble. Their ‘new’ home will have to do, but that doesn’t mean they are fine.
It’s the same with Gaza: the break from the barrage of missiles will have to do, but Gaza is far from fine. The barrage has ceased, but attacks continue on life-sustaining tunnels in the south, fishermen continue to be shot at and arrested (4 were arrested for the crime of fishing in their own waters –the shooting and harassment of boats off the shore of Gaza City was close enough to see with the naked eye on Friday), farmers continue to be targeted on their land within 1 km of the Green Line border, and above all, the siege –the denial of the right to exist –continues, on goods from toilet paper to medicine to building materials, and on exit permits for medical care.
I passed along enough money for 3 months rent but am continuing to scour and appeal for on-going funding, to sustain the family for the next year, 2 years if possible. As the working-age sons are in 1st and 3rd years of university, it will be at least a year until they can work full-time to support their family, if work is to be found. Food, bills, rent, the daily necessities we all face, as well as Fudall (the father)’s medication… these must be paid for somehow.