Months On, Gazans Still Homeless

Despite billions of dollars of international aid pledges, thousands of Palestinian families in Gaza Strip still live in open air, months after Israel’s deadly war in the besieged strip.

"We are living in a corridor and a bedroom," said 46-year-old Majid Jumeh told the Washington Post on Saturday, May 16.

Jumeh’s house in the southern city of Beit Lahiya was destroyed during the three-week Israeli onslaught in Gaza in January.

Since then, his eight eight-member family have been living in partially-destroyed room on the rubble of his house.

"We used to be at a good level. Now look at us."

More than 1,400 people were killed and 5,450 wounded in 22 days of Israeli attacks in Gaza in January.

The offensive has destroyed thousands of homes in the strip, home to 1.6 million people.

"They gave us 4,000 shekels and stuck us in a tent," Mohanned Irhaiem, 49, an unemployed builder who now lives in one of a temporary shelter.

Israel’s Siege

Israel’s suffocating siege is also adding to the suffering of the homeless Gazans.

"Israel has its hand on the tap, and they are going to hover a millimeter above destitution until the political reality changes," Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, said.

Israel has slapped a tight siege on the strip since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

UNRWA has requested industrial-level quantities of a dozen different materials, including cement and steel, to rebuild and repair destroyed buildings in Gaza.

But the demand fell on the deaf ear of Israeli officials.

International donors in March pledged 4.5 billion dollars for the reconstruction of the bombed-out strip.

But little has made its way to Gaza amid the continuing Israeli blockade and bitter Palestinian political divisions.

Facing the Israeli restrictions, the Hamas-run government said last week that it will use mud bricks to rebuild the destroyed houses to shelter homeless Gazans.

"This is not a humanitarian crisis," Gunness said.

"It is a political crisis with grave humanitarian consequences."
( and Agencies)

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