The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Government of Hamas that started on November 14, 2012 and continued till the ceasefire truce on November 21, 2012, has severely disrupted the lives of ordinary people in the Gaza strip. According to the Palestine Centre for Human Rights, the 8-day cross-border fighting resulted in the death of 156 Palestinians, including 33 children and minors.
The conflicts in the Gaza strip with an unusually large number of civilian deaths and casualties have acutely affected ordinary people. People in Gaza have been facing severe hardships both socially and economically for years, owing to the blockade restricting imports and exports with over eighty percent of the population being dependent on international assistance. Already living under such dire circumstances, people of Gaza are faced with compounded misery during such times of escalated conflict.
With the announcement of the ceasefire came some relief and people have been returning to what can be called normal life in this part of the world. However, the remnants of the conflict can be found all around – rocket-hit public buildings and homes and conflict-scarred lives. Several homes have been hit by rockets, leaving people scurrying for shelter. Residents have lamented the attacks that affected quite a few densely populated areas. Many people have been left homeless by the latest attacks which ravaged many residential places.
According to the truce agreement, farmers are allowed to work on their lands and fishermen could go fishing for up to 6 miles from the coast. However, there have been recent reports that Israeli soldiers have not been fulfilling these commitments. According to these reports, farmers have been prevented from working on their lands. Also, incidents of fishermen being attacked have come to light. As it is, Gazan fishermen are impoverished and face immense difficulty in providing for their families. The Israeli restrictions even during normal times deprived the Gazan fishermen to benefit from the fish-rich coastal area. Prolonged restrictions will adversely affect these fishermen.
During times of such conflict, with death and destruction so close, children go through serious psychological trauma. Research studies conducted a few days after the conflict ended indicate various problems in children such as sleeping disturbances, insecurity and appetite changes. Since the announcement of the ceasefire, Gaza schools have reopened and thousands of children have returned to school. Teachers have spent time talking about children’s experiences during the conflict to mitigate the effects of trauma these children have had to endure. Also, some organisations have been working with children to alleviate the suffering caused by the recent attacks.
In spite of the ceasefire, tensions remain high, leaving the people of Gaza in a state of uncertainty and anxiety. For now, Gazan people are trying to pick up their lives and rebuild from there.