In the al Bateran family neighbourhood, off Zarga street just outside Gaza city, the mood was heavier, sadder somehow. They are living with a poverty they have no hope of climbing out of. In most of the families I know, there are no young men, no bread-winners. Fathers are ill or disabled, and the children are mostly school age, meaning no help to the income but more bites in the family expenses. Some of the men now jobless used to work in Israel, but lost these jobs when the borders were sealed to Palestinian labourers after the 2nd Initifada [uprising]. With 95% of Gaza’s industries shut down from the Israeli siege and attacks, and without cement, construction isn’t a work option in Gaza.
Saud had been sleeping –not escaping the Ramadan fasting, but trying to escape the pain and psychosis that develop when he can’t take his medicine. He doesn’t have the medicine, it’s not available in Gaza, his wife said some weeks ago. Same situation today, but even worse for Saud.
The group of families in that area really hold no prospect for joy, and it shows on their faces and in their bearings. Hadwa sits lonely, shoulders bowed and always replies “aysch bin sauer, aiyishiin,” [what can I do, I’m living].
Yet, they are hospitable, with nothing to offer but still trying to do so nonetheless. Iftaar invitations from all the families; but today wasn’t possible.
Later, post-iftaar by the sea, a friend tells me of his wish to get married. But like most young men in Gaza, he can’t afford it. A wedding runs up to $12,000; if you cut corners it will cost maybe $9,000.
He speaks also of his desire to study again in Gaza, post-grad studies, and how its out of his realm, he can’t afford the over $1,000 for the year.
Ramadan day 7 ends as I sit listening to the engines of Palestinian fishermen, going or coming to/from sea, and wonder what lies ahead for them, hope they catch something, hope the Israeli navy decides they will ignore what surely must be commands from above and will not shoot on or abduct the fishermen. Yarayt [if only].