Islamic Relief aid worker Mohammed tells the story of a Palestinian father who does one of Gaza’s most dangerous jobs: fishing.
In the many emergency shelters across conflict-torn Gaza, there are many different stories. This is the story of Mo’nes Zaid, a father-of-four who is seeking safety with his family in one of these shelters. I met him as we visited the UN school that is now housing over 100 displaced families.
Before the latest outbreak of fighting, Mo’nes struggled to provide for his family as a fisherman. Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to fish up to three nautical miles from Gaza’s shores, though once they could travel up to 20 miles.
At that distance, there’s not much fish – so the fishermen depend on the seasonal times when the fish come closer to the beach. In shallow waters, there is little variety of fish and these limited stocks are being fished over and over again to depletion.
A dangerous place to be a fisherman
As well as the challenges of finding fish so he can earn a living, Mo’nes faces particular risks as a fisherman. He says his nets were destroyed once, he has been shot at, and his boat burned.
Mo’nes cannot fish amidst the conflict tearing through Gaza, and instead he and his family focus on surviving. His wife told me, “I used to prepare nice meals for the family in Ramadan. Instead we broke our fasting with a tin of tuna and some bread.”
Without adequate food, Mo’nes and his wife worry particularly about the impact upon the health of their children. Like many children in Palestine, his youngest daughter already has growth problems due to poor nutrition. Their elder son, Mohammed, left his spectacles at home when they fled – and is trying hard to adapt without them.
“When the conflict started, I began to hate our house”
One of the children explained how this conflict has taken away something that most children take for granted – the belief that their home is a place they are safe.
“We were enjoying the summer vacation and Ramadan. When the conflict started, I began to hate our house. I want to stay in the school,” said Mo’taz, 11.
His sister Seelan finished the first grade of school with excellent grades, and was looking forward to the new school year. But now, like her brothers and sisters and so many other Palestinian children, she faces an uncertain future.
A generation of children have seen their childhoods shattered once more in this conflict in which more than 1,300 people have already died and the number of families fleeing their homes continues to swell.
From its office in Gaza, Islamic Relief remains on the ground delivering life-saving humanitarian aid to those whose lives have been torn apart by this latest conflict.
Please support our work to provide emergency relief and life-saving aid to Palestinians caught up in the conflict: Donate to our Palestine Emergency Appeal today.Donate