In Gaza, Palestinians have been forced to find creative ways to cope with the Israeli blockade. The siege has led to shortages of basic items, like food and fuel. It has also stymied Gaza’s potential for long-term economic development. Chronic problems, such as access to education, healthcare and clean water, have become more pronounced. As conditions in Gaza worsen, Palestinians’ resolve has grown. Palestinians strive for dignity and refuse to succumb to daily humiliation.
Since the beginning of the siege, Israel has launched three protracted military assaults on Gaza: in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Each of these attacks has worsened Gaza’s already dire situation, with tens of thousands of homes, schools and office buildings destroyed.
Rebuilding has been next to impossible, as the siege prevents construction materials from reaching Gaza. Palestinians have found ways to go around this; to rebuild their homes, for example, Palestinians use concrete smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, and material salvaged from demolished buildings.
Palestinians living in Gaza strive to live normal lives, even under the harshest of conditions. Their determination stems from necessity, but it is also symbolic. Palestinians in Gaza want to show the world that they refuse to be broken by the Israeli occupation. Palestinians continue to fish off the coast of Gaza, despite the threat posed by Israeli naval vessels. Farmers risk their lives by venturing onto land that Israel considers part of a closed military zone. Parents continue to send their children to school, even though Israeli airstrikes target their classrooms.
To outsiders, these small acts of resistance may seem confusing. Why would a Palestinian rebuild his house, only for Israel to destroy it again? Why would a fisherman place his very life at risk to catch a few fish?
For Palestinians, however, resisting the occupation is more than a necessity, it is a moral duty. Through its blockade, Israel continues to collectively punish Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, but Palestinians refuse to be defined by the occupation. Despite it all, the beauty of the people and their land continues to shine through.
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