In the Gaza Strip, owing money is part of day-to-day life

The average debt among the poorest refugee households amounts to more than twice their annual income

By Gaza Protection Consortium (GPC)

In order to meet their basic needs in Gaza, some 90 per cent of families have accumulated significant debt, relatively to their income, in a manner that is unsustainable and has negative ramifications.

“I have lived in rented accommodation for the past 25 years,” said Sabreen, aged 40, who lives in Beach Camp, near Gaza City, along with her husband and six children. “During these years, I was evicted 15 times for not paying rent. My husband was a fisherman, but he has been ill for the last six years and can’t work.”

Sabreen’s eldest sons, Mahmoud, 17, and Muhammad, 15, dropped out of school to work in the fishing and construction trades. In order to cover their basic needs, such as food, water and health, the family relies primarily on borrowing and has accumulated 14,000 Israeli shekels, equivalent to about US$4,360.

The outbreak of COVID-19, and the measures implemented to contain it, have eroded the already limited purchasing power and resilience of poor people like Sabreen across the Gaza Strip. By the third quarter of 2020, 48.6 per cent of the work force in Gaza was unemployed, while the proportion of poor households is estimated to have reached 64 per cent, by the end of 2020.

With the purpose of developing a cash assistance programme for the most vulnerable families, and generating a baseline for future evaluations, the Gaza Protection Consortium (GPC) carried out a multi-sectoral needs assessment among refugee families living in “deep poverty”, i.e., with an income of less than ILS 1,974 per month (about $615).

While registered refugee families benefit from food assistance and services provided by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, this has not been sufficient to lift them out of extreme poverty, and many require additional support. The serious financial crisis affecting UNRWA may result in further deterioration in the socioeconomic situation of refugees in Gaza.

The assessment was conducted between August and September 2020, in which period all families meeting the above criteria were contacted, either in person or by phone, resulting in a total of 2,241 family representatives being interviewed.

The average household assessed had 6.4 nuclear members, slightly above the Gaza average of 5.8. However, nearly half had extended family members residing within the same dwelling, bringing the effective average size to 7.5 members. About half of the families have at least one member with a chronic illness or disability. Nearly three-quarters of the adults reported that they had not engaged in any form of paid work in the preceding 30 days, while 22 per cent reported having a temporary job during that period, and only four per cent a permanent job.

One of the assessment’s key findings is that, in order to meet their basic needs, some 90 per cent of the assessed families have accumulated significant debt, relatively to their income, in a manner that is unsustainable and has negative ramifications. Other coping mechanisms reported by the families to meet their basic needs, include reducing non-food expenditures (41 per cent), sending family members elsewhere to eat (29 per cent), and withdrawing their children from school (five per cent).

The average monthly income reported by the surveyed households amounted to ILS 382 (~$119), while the monthly expenditure, on average, was ILS 726 (~$226). The average household debt accumulated by the time of the assessment stood at ILS 10,173 (~$3,169), which is equivalent to more than twice the annual income of the surveyed families.

On average, the assessed families allocate 41 per cent of their monthly expenditure on food, followed by debt repayment (16 per cent), health (9 per cent) and education-related expenses (7 per cent). The large expenditure on food is also noteworthy in light of the fact that almost all families are beneficiaries of UNRWA’s food assistance.

Provided that an average family does not take on new liabilities, it would take six years to fully repay their debt without assistance. Two thirds of the surveyed households reported that they had not made any repayments in the month preceding the assessment.

The bulk of the debt is incurred informally, mostly from local shops, family members, friends, other members of the community and employers. Very few families reported resorting to formal lending from institutions, such as banks and local savings and loan organizations.

Over half of the families (52 per cent) reported debts accrued from more than one lender, and nine per cent with three or more lenders. The limited capacity of families to repay their debts is expected to reduce the ability and/or willingness of lenders to continue lending, thus rendering this coping mechanism unsustainable.

The high level of indebtedness, along with the incapacity of families to repay, is a significant source of stress and hardship. One quarter of families reported being at risk of imprisonment and 23 per cent report not feeling safe in their area in connection to their debt, presumably due to potential confrontations with the lender. Of the 10 per cent of the assessed families living in rented accommodation, two-thirds (66 per cent) reported being at risk of forced eviction due to their inability to pay the rent.

“I cannot sleep thinking about our debts,” said Sabreen. “We owe rent money for this and for previous houses we rented. We also owe money to sellers at the vegetable market and local shops. I used to borrow from my sister, but now, because of COVID-19, her financial situation is worse and she cannot help us. One of my son’s friends lent us ILS 1,700 (~$530), and now he wants his money back.”

Ensuring basic needs through cash assistance

Based on the assessment, the GPC identified the 1,499 most vulnerable refugee households to be provided with cash assistance. The assistance consists of five monthly transfers (from October 2020 to February 2021) of ILS 1,185 (~$369) per month per family. This amount is estimated to cover 60 per cent of the ‘Minimum Expenditure Basket’ (MED), as calculated by the interagency Cash Assistance Working Group.

Beneficiaries are expected to use this assistance to meet their basic needs, such as improving their food consumption and reducing the use of negative coping strategies. However, the assistance, which is distributed via electronic cards to be used at ATM machines, is unconditional and unrestricted. This modality is aimed at ensuring the freedom of beneficiaries to determine their own priorities, as well as their dignity.

Kefaiah, 46, and mother of two children, is one of GPC’s beneficiaries. She is an amputee and suffers from diabetes, while her husband, Alaa, is paralyzed. Both require regular medical treatment and medications that cost about ILS 330 per month. They have used some of the cash assistance they received to cover the fees for a private medical visit and avoid overcrowding at a public hospital during the pandemic. “In the past, the pharmacy owner refused to give me the medicine on credit, as he did not trust my ability to repay, but after I started receiving the cash assistance I was able to get our medicines,” said Kefaiah.

The extension of the GPC’s cash intervention programme beyond the current phase, ending in February 2021, depends on the willingness of donors and member states to contribute the necessary funding.

While cash assistance is essential to provide some temporary relief to affected families, it is far from being a sustainable solution. Reducing poverty and aid dependency requires significant changes in key policies and practices shaping Gaza’s situation, including a lifting of Israel’s blockade, in line with Security Council Resolution 1860, a long-term halt in hostilities between Palestinian armed groups and Israel, and a resolution of the internal Palestinian divide, among others.

(Source / 18.01.2021)

A boy from Gaza shot by the occupation forces defies disability with parkour sport

Mahmoud Abu Awad – Muhammad Aliwa (18 years old), from the Gaza Strip, did not find a better way to challenge the circumstances of his amputation in his right foot than to continue his hobby of practicing sports, which he feels gives him a lot of strength And determination and positive energy even before he was shot by an Israeli sniper who deliberately targeted him on both feet during his participation in the return marches on the eastern borders of Gaza City.

Alywa, a resident of the Sajaiya neighborhood, overcame all the obstacles he had faced since his injury on the eleventh of September of 2018, with the help of his family and friends who did not leave him for a moment, until he managed to overcome his ordeal, until he returned to practice his life normally despite all that he could face Suffering on different levels.

The injury did not prevent the young Muhammad Aliwa from practicing football, which he used to professionally, but he later resorted to a more dangerous sport, in an attempt to challenge the circumstances left by the injury, until he started practicing a sport known as “parkour”, so he sought to train in it with the help of some young men. Master it.

Aliwa told that he received great encouragement from his family and friends to live his life normally, and to continue practicing sports of all kinds, including “parkour”, indicating that since he was a young age, he preferred sports over other hobbies, especially as it gives him a lot of hope for life. And help him overcome daily life obstacles.

With one foot, and with several quick and successive movements, through which Muhammad Aliwa shows his strength, he succeeded in becoming a good player who can compete with healthy young men in any competition.

Alywa points out that the sport of “parkour” is dangerous as it is described, but he feels very happy when he practices it, and hopes to continue with it, and that he will not be exposed to any accident that deprives him later of this game, which gives him a special feeling that he is able to defy all other difficulties and obstacles, and gives him strength And determination to go on with life.

He points out that he succeeded in overcoming the state of frustration he felt after the injury, until he started practicing this sport even if it was with only one foot, indicating that he did not see it as a dangerous sport as described, especially since he insisted on practicing it until he succeeded in it, as he said. .

He adds: “All occupation attempts to kill us or harm us have not and will not succeed. We are a people who always have the ability to overcome all adversities and obstacles, and we have the determination and strength to overcome what we face due to the occupation and others.”

He expressed his hope that there would be a party that would embrace him to represent Palestine in this sport on the Arab and international levels, and even enter local competitions.

(Source / 10.01.2021)

The Prisoners´ Association: The occupation forces abuse and abuse 4 prisoners during the arrest process

A report issued by the Prisoners and Editors Affairs Authority today, Wednesday, recorded live testimonies of prisoners and minors, in which they list details of their abuse and the degrading treatment and torture they are subjected to during their arrest from their homes, and their interrogation in Israeli detention centers.

Among the testimonies revealed by the commission’s report, the testimony of Khaled Al-Qeni (16 years) from the town of Kafr Qaliil in Nablus, where the occupation forces stormed his house accompanied by police dogs in the middle of the night and broke the entrance door, and arrested him and his two brothers (Walid and Yahya). The police officer, his brother Yahya, lifted some of him with his foot, and then they were thrown into the military jeep and taken to the “Hawara” detention center. Then the minor Khaled was taken to the Lod Police Station for questioning, and he was interrogated for 6 consecutive hours while he was handcuffed and footed, and later he was transferred to a detention center. Megiddo, where he is now.

The occupation army attacked the minor Abdul-Hadi Nazzal (16 years) from the town of Qabatiya in Jenin, where members of the “Al-Yisam” unit attacked him and threw him on the ground and then severely beat him and punched him, and then dragged him to the ground and placed him on the military (Tactron), and continued By hitting him and slapping him in the face, and later he was transferred to the “Hadera” police station for interrogation,

After completing his interrogation, he was taken to the “Jalameh” detention center, and there he was detained in a solitary cell, and interrogated for several times and for long hours, in addition to his transfer to the so-called bird rooms (agents) for three days in an attempt to extract confessions from him. He remained 16 days in “Jalameh”, after which he was transferred to “Megiddo” detention center, according to the commission’s report.

As for the captive child Abd al-Rahman Shaqfa (16 years old), he was arrested at dawn, after members of the Special Forces and a number of Israeli soldiers stormed his house in the town of Qabatiya, took him from his home and beat him arbitrarily with the butts of their rifles, and then he was thrown into the military jeep and taken To the “Huwara” detention center, and there he was interrogated seven times, and each time he was interrogated for three consecutive hours while he was wearing a small chair, and later he was transferred to the Cubs Prisoners Department in “Megiddo,” according to the report of the Prisoners Affairs Authority.

The occupation forces also abused the young man Muhammad Abu Aker (26 years old) during his arrest from his home in Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem city, after the occupation soldiers raided his house at dawn and beat and punched him. They also beat his mother and brother, and they were shocked with electricity. It is clear that the prisoner is currently in the “Hawara” detention center, according to the commission’s report.

The commission indicated that these violations, which were monitored through the testimonies documented in the report, are only a small part of what prisoners are exposed to, especially the minors.

The occupation authorities do not stop devising new methods of torture and abuse against them from the first moments of their arrest, in addition to their suffering by throwing them into cruel and inhuman conditions inside the walls of detention centers, striking against all the international laws and conventions that guarantee their rights as prisoners, according to the commission.

(Source / 24.12.2020)

Gaza: A protest stand against UNRWA cuts

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The People’s Committee for Refugees in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, organized today, Wednesday, a protest against the policy of cuts pursued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Dozens participated in the stand that was organized in front of the headquarters for the distribution of food aid in the governorate, where the participants raised slogans confirming that the policy of cuts is aimed at liquidating the refugee issue, and calling on UNRWA to retract its decisions and assume its responsibilities towards them.

A number of children who participated in the stand lifted bags of milk and empty containers that were knocked over, in reference to their rejection of all cuts to food aid and other things.

In the coming days, the Gaza Strip will witness a series of similar protests in light of the new UNRWA policies regarding the distribution of foodstuffs, and other measures that it is taking, in light of talk of a suffocating financial crisis.

(Source / 24.12.2020)

The occupation demolishes housing and facilities in Al-Samou, Hebron

Today, Monday morning, the occupation forces raided Al-Samiya area, northwest of the town of Al-Samou, and they demolished properties of citizens of the Al-Qawaein family.

According to a statement by the Wall and Settlement Resistance Authority, the demolitions included the demolition of the house of Shehdat Al-Qawa’in, with an area of ​​200 square meters housing more than 20 people, and they also demolished a 500-square-meter bark of a citizen Ahmed Al-Qawaein and his brother Hammad, in addition to the demolition of a residential house. A well with a capacity of 600 cups for the same family.

(Source / 24.12.2020)

Warning of the emergence of new complications of corona that lead to death, even among young people

The consultant of care and anesthesia, head of the intensive care department at the Istishari Hospital, Dr. Imad Tayem, warned of some citizens’ disdain and their lack of commitment to medical and preventive procedures, warning of the emergence of new complications from the Corona virus that lead to death even for young people who do not have Any chronic diseases.

In an interview with “Voice of Palestine” radio, on Monday morning, Tim said that the cases that enter the intensive care unit suffer from respiratory failure that leads to failure in other organs, especially the kidneys and blood vessels, which happened with a young man from Ramallah governorate who had blood clots after He was infected with the Coronavirus, which led to his death.

Dr Tim explained that one of the means of treating Corona complications in this acute period is to continue taking anti-clotting drugs known as blood thinners, because Corona not only affects the respiratory system and lungs, but also affects the veins and arteries.

The Care and Anesthesia Consultant indicated that, during the last month, he entered the advisory hospital, with cases of infection with the Corona virus for young people who do not have any chronic diseases and whose cases quickly reached fibrosis, pointing out that they are entering the hospital at a final stage, which means it is difficult to save their lives.

(Source / 21.12.2020)

A young man was shot by metal bullets in the face in Kafr Malik

A young man was wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets in the face, this evening, Friday, during clashes with the Israeli occupation army in the village of Kafr Malik, east of Ramallah.

Local sources reported to “Wafa”, that the young man was wounded with a rubber-coated metal bullet below the mouth, and was transferred to a medical center in Silwad village, and from there to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where his condition was described as stable.

Earlier, settlers, with weapons and police dogs, attacked a peaceful march condemning the establishment of a settlement outpost on the lands of “Ras El-Tin”, which belongs to the lands of Kafr Malik.

(Source / 19.12.2020)

Two international experts: The occupation has killed 155 Palestinian children with live ammunition since 2013

Two United Nations human rights defenders called for an impartial and independent investigation, and expressed deep concern about the lack of accountability for the killing of Palestinian children in recent years.

On December 4, the child, Ali Abu Ali, was wounded in the stomach by live ammunition by the Israeli army, during a demonstration in which Palestinians participated in the village of Mughayir to protest against construction in a nearby settlement outpost. He died after his wounds in a hospital.

According to information collected by civil society organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Office in occupied Palestine, the Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, and hit the child Abu Alya from a distance of 100-150 meters, “in response to the stone throwing of the protesters.”

Abu Alia did not pose a threat …

Michael Link, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a statement that the killing of the child Abu Alya by Israeli forces – in The circumstances in which there was no threat of death or serious injury to these forces, is a flagrant violation of international law.

“Deliberate lethal force can only be justified when forces face an immediate threat of using lethal force or serious harm,” the statement added. The two human rights experts said they were not aware of any allegations that Israeli forces were in danger at any moment.

The two experts said that the child, Ali Abu Ali, is the sixth Palestinian child to live in the West Bank and was killed by Israeli forces using live ammunition.

The Israeli forces announced that they would start an investigation into the death of the child Abu Alia. However, the two experts noted that the investigations conducted by the Israeli army into the deaths of Palestinians rarely lead to adequate accountability.

The two experts added that civil society organizations have documented the killing of 155 Palestinian children by Israeli forces, using live ammunition or crowd control weapons, since 2013. Only 3 indictments have been issued regarding criminal charges related to crimes directly related to these killings.

In the first case, the charges were later dropped. In the second case, the soldier in charge reached an agreement with the prosecution and was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment on charges of causing death by negligence. In the third case, the soldier was convicted of not obeying orders and was sentenced to one month in prison in the military prison.

A prompt and independent investigation is required.

Michael Link and Agnes Callamard called on the government of Israel either to conduct a civil, independent, transparent, impartial and prompt investigation in accordance with international standards into this deeply troubling human rights record, or to allow an impartial and independent international review of human rights.

The statement said: “This investigation – local or international – must be directed towards ensuring that children living under occupation do not suffer death or injury when exercising their legitimate right to protest, and that the culture of impunity for military misconduct has ended.”

The two experts stressed the need for children to enjoy special rights under international law, and indicated that this “low level” of legal accountability for the killing of many children by Israeli forces is not appropriate for a country that “declares that it lives according to the rule of law.”

According to the information received, one thousand and 48 Palestinian children were injured throughout the occupied territories between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020.

(Source / 19.12.2020)

Gaza agriculture: the occupation targets our crews

The Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip condemned, today, Thursday, the Israeli occupation’s targeting of its staff and a group of journalists who were in the Al-Fokhary area, east of Khan Yunis, to explore farmers’ complaints about the occupation’s razing of their crops.

In a statement, the ministry considered this targeting as “Israeli arrogance and a breach of understandings with mediators in this regard,” blaming the occupation for the lives of farmers who seek their families’ sustenance.

The ministry stated that it is following up with the Red Cross Organization, the Israeli ban on farmers accessing their farms, and the Israeli threats that were represented by placing warning signs in particular.

(Source / 18.12.2020)

Gaza Health: The coming weeks will witness the height of the epidemic

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said this evening, Thursday, that the relevant committees in the ministry indicate that the next few weeks will witness the peak of the epidemic, and this is the most dangerous stage.

In a press statement, the Ministry stated that the increase in the number of injuries poses a threat to society, and this requires concerted efforts to flatten the curve of the outbreak.

She pointed out that the serious and critical cases exceeded the absorptive capacity of the European Gaza Hospital, and we began to absorb the cases in the places designated for the rest of the hospitals.

She indicated that exceptional efforts made by health personnel in the face of the pandemic have succeeded until this moment in keeping the health system working without collapse.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza emphasized the societal role in enhancing adherence to preventive measures in order to overcome this dangerous stage and exit from it with the least losses.

She also stressed the utmost attention to prevention and preservation measures for the elderly, people with chronic diseases, weak immunity and children.

(Source / 18.12.2020)