The Israeli occupation of Palestine has shaped politics in the Middle East for decades. Since 2007, Israel has imposed a permanent blockade on Gaza, limiting the electricity supply and life-sustaining imports. This siege impacts all aspects of daily life for Palestinians living in Gaza. In this series I intend to explore how Palestinian stay resilient in Gaza in the face of countless human rights violations.
Food and Water Access in Gaza under Israeli Blockade
Since 2007, the permanent Israeli Blockade on Gaza has tightly controlled which goods are allowed into Gaza, severely restricting food and water access. UNICEF reports that the blockade restricts access to the coastal waters. Palestinians are only allowed to access half of these fishing waters as a result. Furthermore, The World Food Programme estimates that Palestinians' poorly diversified diets, resultant of the blockade, contributes to higher rates of anemia and other vitamin deficiencies. The U.N reports that hundreds of tons of produce that were in route to be exported spoiled or were donated elsewhere just after the blockade was implemented. Exacerbating nutritional deficiencies further, international humanitarian relief organizations have been repeatedly blocked from delivering assistance at the border. Thus, these organizations have had to find alternative ways to transport supplies into Gaza, presenting more challenges to food accessibility in Gaza. According to the BBC, the Israeli Ministry of Defense 2008 report, “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip-The Red Line” concluded that 106 lorry loads of supplies were needed everyday for the basic needs of people in Gaza. However, in 2008, an average of only 67 lorry loads of supplies were allowed to enter Gaza. In turn, food imports consistently fell below the red line or minimum requirements for Palestinians in Gaza’s needs being met. Consequently, people in Gaza are deprived of water and food unnecessarily.
Nadya Siyam and Ramzy Baroud are two young Palestinians from Gaza who have shared their first hand account of the impact of food accessibility in Gaza. Nadya is involved with We Are Not Numbers, a Palestinian youth-led organization and one of Nonviolence International’s fiscally sponsored partners, which tells the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza. Nadya Siyam’s experiences show how inconsistent electricity from the blockade limits clean water access:
“Systems are interdependent. For example, the lack of electricity directly affects our access to clean, running water. When there isn’t electricity, pumps powered by electric motors stop running—and that means no water.”
Another Palestinian from Gaza, Ramzy Baroud notes how basic foods like chicken have increased to the point where they are considered to be luxury items:
“Essential food prices, like wheat and meat, have nearly doubled. The price of a chicken, for example, which was only accessible to a small segment of Gaza’s population, has increased from 20 shekels (approx. $6) to 45 (approx. $14).”
With the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Prime Minister and ever-increasing violence from Israeli airstrikes, more obstacles to food and water loom. When Israeli airstrikes land, they don’t destroy homes, they often land in farmland or sewage plants, further contaminating water supply. Moreover, the coastal aquifer that yielded purified drinking water has been over-exploited, leaving Palestinians with even less access to potable water. Additionally, Putin’s war on Ukraine has raised food prices in Gaza tremendously. Inflation has caused the price of wheat to increase 25%, compounding hunger.
Despite these obstacles to food and water access, Palestinians remain resilient. The import of hybrid seeds offers solutions to deal with pollution of soil. Fertilizers and hybrid seeds enable crops to grow even in contaminated soil conditions. While this has increased the price of production for farmers, fertilizers and hybrid seeds have provided hope and help to agriculture. One Palestinian-led organization, From the Poor to the Poor is a communal cooking project which organizes Palestinian volunteers in Gaza to provide food to other Gazans during Ramadan. NGOs like Anera are feeding people with meal vouchers and teaching people how to build home gardens. Even though Palestinians find ways to cope with these limitations, we need to advocate for our brothers and sisters under blockade and occupation.
Please see how you can get involved supporting Palestinians with these resources.
- Donate to one of our partners like the U.S. Boats to Gaza or WANN helping Palestinians cope with the blockade’s impact.
- Follow & reshare Palestinian NGO’s content to spread awareness of Palestinian issues.
- Lobby! Contact your elected officials to express your support for lifting the Israeli blockade.