We have no idea what is going on there

Philip Rizk, 27, is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been reporting from Gaza since 2005 and was taken by Egyptian security forces after a pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo on February 6.

He was released a few days later without being charged.

While in Gaza, he filmed The Palestinian Life, a documentary highlighting non-violent means of resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Here he tells al-Jazeera about life in Gaza:

I lived in Gaza from 2005 to 2007 and worked there for an NGO called the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation.

Gaza wears a face of misery and the living conditions are unimaginable. Unless you visit, you wouldn’t be able to picture the kind of agony Gazans have to live through on a daily basis. They function with whatever is available.

I was completely shocked when I returned in the summer of 2008. I discovered these tunnels myself and I couldn’t believe how out in the open they were. In the past, I had heard the entrances were from inside people’s living rooms, under their beds, or underneath a table, making it hard to find if ever an Israeli soldier would search their homes.

Last summer, I came across hundreds of tents, and underneath each of these tents were entrance points to hundreds of these tunnels. Egyptians and Israelis were well aware of them as these tunnels were all the people had as a means of transporting food and goods.

At least 85 per cent of the people are dependent on food aid. If the amount of aid was reduced, they would starve.

Refugee camps receive flour, oil and rice as aid and without these donations; they would not be able to survive.

They may be living but they’re not alive. There isn’t work to do; they’ve lost their dignity because of lack of work caused largely by the siege. Fathers have nothing to provide for their kids and in front of their wives they feel ashamed because there’s nothing for them to do; they can’t even provide their families with the most basic of needs.

The ironic thing is that the main providers for employment are the NGOs being funded by international organisations, which then serve to help keep the rest of the population alive. In the meanwhile, politicians don’t look for actual solutions to the conflict.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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