Gazans endure their harshest summer yet…heat, war and hunger intertwine

GazaAs the world's population moves between continents during the summer vacation, residents… Gaza They transfer children from camps to shelters, trying to survive in the shadow of war wipe out And hunger.

After nine months of harsh winter, some two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are now facing a hot summer with empty stomachs and a lack of anything to satisfy their hunger and thirst.

People walking the streets of Gaza say that getting water has become a wish, getting fresh water is a plunder, but the water is ice cold, and they believe it is a blessing from the afterlife that can only be achieved by the lucky ones.

In the early morning, Gazans come out with empty water bottles, dragging children's carts or donkey carts, to start a new day, enduring hours of torture in the sweltering heat and high humidity.

A 60-year-old woman spoke to Al Jazeera as she waited for her son to return from the invisible waterline, wiping sweat from her forehead with the end of a handkerchief. “This is the harshest summer we have ever experienced in every way; we stand in front of the fire for hours cooking, and we feel thirsty during this time, because drinking water is painful.”

With the disappearance of natural refreshments and fruit juices, drinks are becoming popular on the streets of Gaza.
As soft drinks and natural juices disappear, colored ice becomes the main drink on Gaza's streets (Al Jazeera)

Drinking is not enough, eating is not enough

Not far ahead, a stooped old man walked up to vendors in the Sahaba market in the city center and asked, “Is there any water?” To moisten his dry mouth, he drank the popular and only drink most Gazans now know.

In a plastic cooler box were dozens of bags of ice cubes colored with dye, and even if you tasted them, their color didn't resemble water or juice.

Her seller responded to a passerby’s comment by saying, “It’s just ice and dye!” and explaining, “We used to put sugar, make the drink, and then cool it down, but we don’t put sugar because a kilo now costs 100 shekels ($30),” while eating, the old man commented, “It doesn’t taste good! What matters is that we find something that cools our hearts.” I’ve been looking for someone to sell water for about an hour, but I’ve found nothing.

The lack of not only water, soft drinks and juices, but also food has prevented Gazans from feeling the arrival of summer.

Traditional Palestinian summer dishes have disappeared from Gaza's markets, leaving only raspberry leaves, lemons and green peppers, which cost 400 shekels per kilogram, or about $110.

“There is no summer cooking in the market and there has been no fruit of any kind for months,” Abu Raed, a vegetable seller at Sahaba market, told Al Jazeera. “The peaches are not there, nor are the potatoes, tomatoes, beans and courgettes.”

Abu Rad attributed the scarce supply and low production to “the fact that farmers cannot access their lands located in border areas, so they grow crops between houses and in their backyards.”

He continued, “There is no electricity, no fuel to run the turbines for irrigation, no fertilizers and pesticides, so even the variety and quality of vegetables is different every summer.”

End of school year

It is a summer whose face has changed, whose rituals have disappeared, and Palestinians are simply enduring the heat. Al Jazeera spoke to some mothers who spoke about their feelings at the beginning of the summer vacation as the genocidal war continues.

Tasnim (a mother of 3) expressed her sadness when she saw an advert on social media to fund summer holiday activities outside Palestine, saying: “It makes us sad that the school year ends and the holidays begin for children all over the world. When we plan our projects at a time like this and discuss the camps and courses that the children will attend, how is it all going?”

She continued, “The war destroyed everything, time betrayed us. We became like lost people. We don't know the times, we are confused by the seasons.”

The same signs of sadness appear on the faces of most Gazan mothers, who agree that after the war another war will begin. Life and details have disappeared, homes have been lost, and if they are still alive, they have left. The streets have changed, the places they used to relax in are now only restaurants, no sports clubs, no playgrounds, no gardens or parks.

The war of extermination encompasses everything, but it cannot eliminate the Gaza Sea, where thousands of Palestinians gathered on the shores of the Gaza Sea, where friends who have not been able to see each other for months because of the war are meeting. There are hugs, tears, and comments such as “After the displacement of so many of our family members and the travel of others, we finally found familiar faces.”

Hundreds of Palestinians gather on northern Gaza coast to relax
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered to relax on a beach in northern Gaza[Al Jazeera]

Relax despite pain

Saeb Al-Zard, owner of a guest house that was born during the war, said: “After the occupation forces withdrew from Al-Bahr Street in the northern Gaza Strip, my friends and I came to the beach to relax, and we made the beach ready to receive people.”

The beach was dotted with dozens of tables, umbrellas and hundreds of chairs, which seemed unexpected to the owners of the nursing home, especially after people broke their fear of going near a sea filled with Israeli ships.

“We were supposed to have a menu of hot and cold food and drinks but we only served coffee and tea, which required the effort of lighting a wood fire to prepare,” Alzad told Al Jazeera.

As the sun falls from the center of the sky into the embrace of the sea, at the moment of sunset, they linger in front of the sun, as they gaze at it silently, with a huge noise hidden in their hearts, the Gazans wait for the arrival of the sun, a new dawn, without killing, fear or hunger, so that they can find themselves again and see their loved ones who are only a street and a few minutes away from them.

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