BEIT LAHIA, GAZA
Background: Palestinian workers removing debris from the Shuja'iyeh neighbourhood was Gaza as part of UNDP’s USD 13.7 million rubble removal programme. The programme is funded by Sweden, Japan and USA. Photo by UNDP/PAPP
We met Masa’ad in 2015, a few months after the 2014 escalation in Gaza. He was 46 years old, unemployed, but years of hard work in the agricultural sector had enabled him to save some money that he invested in the construction of his home.
❝In Gaza you are not safe at home. My family and I have been displaced twice in two years. The first time was during the Israeli military operation in November 2012, and the second time as a result of the recent conflict.❞
When the Israeli military ground operation began, the family left their home and took shelter in one of the UNRWA schools, where the situation was very difficult.
❝We managed to visit our home during the temporary ceasefire 25 days into the hostilities. We found our home and around 95 other homes in the area completely destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.
❝We were shocked and helpless; it was all gone, everything we had struggled to build. I have worked all my life to have a house of my own, and then the Israeli bulldozers came and destroyed it in seconds.❞
After the end of the hostilities, Masa’ad and his family had to relocate to another UNRWA shelter in Ar Remal area, where they stayed for 15 days before moving to a shelter in Beach camp, where some of the family still live.
❝The long stay and situation inside the shelter has become a great strain on my family and I have no money to rent an apartment. The economic situation is very difficult. We erected a makeshift shelter from plastic and fabric near our destroyed home.❞
When we met him, some members of his family felt more comfortable staying in the makeshift shelter despite the winter season and the exposure to harsh weather conditions.
❝We are waiting for UNRWA assistance to be able to rent an apartment temporarily, but we have heard that UNRWA has no money to help us. All I hope for is that our home will be reconstructed very soon so we can return to a life of dignity.❞
Restrictions on the import of goods, including basic construction materials, imposed by Israel as part of its blockade, have complicated, delayed and, in some cases prevented reconstruction and repair of destroyed or severely damaged homes.
In other cases, where goods are available, families lack the financial resources to purchase them due to the poor economic situation in Gaza caused largely by the years-long blockade.