Gaza run out of fuel, wood

In Gaza, trees are being systematically felled for fuel, with residents resorting to burning waste when wood is scarce. The blockade imposed by Israel has made gas inaccessible, forcing people to construct makeshift stoves from clay, scrap metal, or bricks. Finding fuel, primarily through tree cutting, is a time-consuming task, exacerbating health concerns due to the released smoke, especially in overcrowded living conditions.

According to the World Food Programme, 70% of displaced individuals in southern Gaza rely on firewood, but the number without any fuel has doubled in the past two weeks to 15%. With dwindling trees, the struggle to find wood intensifies, particularly during colder weather.

Social media updates from Gaza, such as those from 23-year-old Nazmi Mwafi, highlight the urgency of sourcing wood for cooking and heating. The process involves traveling long distances to cut and transport trees through sandy terrain. The city of Rafah, receiving an influx of displaced individuals, grapples with extreme overcrowding, insufficient sleeping space, and a lack of proper sanitation, heightening the risk of disease spread. The increased prevalence of respiratory illnesses, with 129,000 cases reported by the World Health Organization, underscores the dire situation.

The scarcity of fuel and clean water, coupled with food shortages, contributes to heightened hunger levels in Gaza. Over 12 days, the percentage of households experiencing severe hunger rose from 38% to 56%, according to the WFP.

Residents, like Ali Daly from Rafah, either purchase or gather wood from public spaces, noting the detrimental impact on their health from the smoke of cooking and airstrikes, as well as the cold. Shahd al-Modallal, another resident, reveals the desperate measures taken, such as using scraps of paper or even cutting down precious olive trees for survival. Despite Israeli evacuation notices, people repurpose them as fuel, turning a dire situation into a daily routine of survival.

Shahd al-Modallal emphasizes the extreme measures people in Rafah are taking, such as using whatever materials are available as fuel, including scraps of paper and even olive trees, which are traditionally valuable for their harvest in October. Instead of enjoying the season of olives and olive oil, residents find themselves cutting down any available tree for basic survival.

The scarcity of wood has led to a daily routine where families announce the presence of a fire, encouraging others to bring their food for cooking, creating a semblance of normalcy amid the challenging circumstances.

The irony is not lost on the residents, as they repurpose Israeli evacuation letters thrown from the sky into a source of fuel. In a creative yet poignant act of defiance, these letters are burned to make bread, turning a symbol of displacement into a means of sustenance for those struggling to meet their basic needs.

The multifaceted challenges faced by the people of Gaza, including the scarcity of fuel, overcrowded living conditions, and health risks, paint a grim picture of their daily reality. The blockade’s impact on essential resources like gas and the depletion of local natural resources further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.

As the struggle for basic necessities continues, the resilience and resourcefulness of the community shine through in their ability to adapt and find innovative solutions in the face of adversity.

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