People so hungry that they break into the warehouses of the UN to take what they find, children terrified by the noise of air raids, families who use sea water to wash and men who cut down trees in cemeteries to bake bread.
In the morning, on days when the phones work, calls to relatives and friends to see if they have survived another night of the war in Loop between Israel and Hamaswhich lasts two months now.
Ibrahim, a 50-year-old writer who said he did not want to draw attention to himself by giving his full name, said the daily bloodshed, the gruesome scenes in hospitals and the plight of displaced people sleeping outdoors or in tents are just the most visible face of a humanitarian calamity that everyone feels in Gaza.
“More than once, the displaced became angry and sometimes attacked the warehouses of the UNRWA (United Nations agency) because hunger is no less deadly than bombings,” he said in a telephone interview.
“This tragedy is not visible to the world. “The scenes of corpses, body parts, blood and bombings are visible, but this crisis is causing anger among Gazans,” he claimed.
Ibrahim spoke a day after UN human rights chief Volker Turk described conditions in Gaza as “apocalyptic”.
Father of five children, Ibrahim is one of hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in northern Gaza to take refuge with their families in the southern area, now also the scene of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas.
“Israeli pressure is not only that of bombings,” he claimed.
Since a week-long truce ended on December 1, the flow of aid trucks from Egypt to Gaza has slowed to a trickle that only reaches the southern end of the strip.
The Humanitarian Aid Office of the UN (OCHA) said on Thursday that for four consecutive days, Rafah, on the border with Egypt, was the only Gaza province where there was limited aid distribution.
That means empty shelves in stores, astronomical prices for the few products available, and a return to barter.
“We burn charcoal and bake with it to feed our children. “The food is very limited,” explains Ibrahim.
“Basic products are missing. There is no milk for the children. “We buy what is on the market,” he said, adding that a bag of flour had gone from about 40 shekels ($10.8) before the war to 500 shekels now.
During the truce, some canned products had appeared in stores, which had arrived in trucks, but they are now sold out, he added.
“Some people barter. They sell the canned goods to buy other products, such as rice or lentils, if they can find them.”
At night, the noise of the bombing, which he described as like a volcano erupting above the house, kept everyone awake. Morning tasks included calling people to see if they were alive and cutting firewood from trees.
“Our cemeteries in LoopFor example, they always have trees. People from the neighborhood would go and start sawing the trees, cutting them down, using the wood for heating and cooking.”
It is also part of the family’s survival routine: fetching water from the sea approximately once a week, so they can wash.
Ibrahim said that anyone who knew Gaza before the war would not recognize it, as it looked as if it had been shaken by a huge earthquake.
He said he had lived through the first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which began in Gaza in 1987, and the second, which began in 2000, as well as a series of wars between Israel and Hamas, but that none of them had been like this one. “People stayed in their homes. “There was a shortage of water and other things, but nothing like now.”
“Now there are displacements, massacres, hunger and siege. People see their children buried under the rubble. “We are enduring all of this at once.”
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