Exactly one year ago today, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, ending the latest war in Gaza. The war claimed the lives of 2,251 Palestinians, 1,462 of whom were civilians and 551 were children. Six Israeli civilians and and 67 Israeli soldiers were also killed. More than 19,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.
One year on, not a single one has been fully rebuilt, because only 5% of the construction materials sent to Gaza have been allowed through the blockade, meaning thousands have been left to live in makeshift tents or temporary accommodation. We're launching a global petition with Avaaz and over 30 aid organisations to call on world leaders to end the blockade, to bring hope to the 1.8 million people in Gaza and especially the 100,000 people who remain homeless.
Ghalia, 59, is just one of those 100,000 people. We share her experience of hardship over the last year.
Ghalia's kitchen is impeccable. Not one pot or pan sits out of place. Covered with canvas and tin sheets, the kitchen is one of a few small tents that have been her home since the summer war of 2014.
Animals and livelihoods destroyed
She remembers the time when she owned 14 sheep, as well as pigeons, rabbits and chickens, which gave an annual income of around 700USD. She lost all these animals in the bombing and shelling last year.
Ghalia received two sheep from ActionAid and our partner Wefaq Society for Women and Child Care. She has successfully bred four more, a testament to the two decades of experience she has had with livestock and animal breeding.
“I gave advice to women in the training provided by Wefaq. I told them how they should take care of their sheep and how they could expand their business by selling male babies and buying pregnant females,” she says with great pride.
Ghalia would like to see her flock grow to at least 20. Her sheep aren't just a source of income. She says she sees them as her friends that keep her company during walks out in the sandy land of southern Gaza. During these walks, she passes by her former house, now a pile of stone and metal, with one door standing on its own in a corner.
Fears of another war
As Ghalia waits for a permanent home, she does not want to invest in essentials like a fridge because she fears there will be another war and another round of destruction. As Ghalia carries her four-year-old grand-daughter in the tent, she adds: “She is afraid to go to the toilet. When she hears the drones, you can see the fear on her face. We are fed up of wars. We pray that we can live in peace.”
Ending the Gaza blockade
Ghalia is just one of tens of thousands of people without a home in Gaza. The blockade has also reduced Gaza's GDP by 50%, with more than 40% of people unemployed - the highest rate of unemployment in the world.
Please help Ghalia and the people of Gaza by urging world leaders to push the Israeli government to lift the blockade on Gaza.
Photo credits: Celia Peterson/ActionAid