Life under occupation – 6

September 1, 2010
Richard Kuper

dci_pal2 reports from Defence for Children International – Palestine Section

Circulated 1st and 6th September 2010

Case 1

Name: Hasan W.
Date of incident: 22 May 2010
Age: 17
Location: The Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Nature of incident: Shot while collecting building material

On 22 May 2010, a 17-year-old boy is shot in the leg whilst collecting building material in the Gaza Strip, 300 metres from the border fence with Israel.

Seventeen year old Hasan lives with his parents and seven brothers and sisters in Jabalia, a town in the north of the Gaza Strip, close to the Erez Checkpoint with Israel. Hasan dropped out of school in the seventh grade ‘because I wasn’t good enough and couldn’t pass my classes’ and struggles to find work in Gaza where a severe physical and economic blockade has been imposed by Israel since at least June 2007.

The family’s economic situation is bleak. ‘My father sells gas containers,’ says 17-year-old Hasan, ‘but he has little work because of the gas shortage caused by the blockade. He only works a few days a month, and the money he makes barely meets the needs of our ten-member family.’ In February, Hasan heard about a job opportunity from his cousin, where he could earn between 30 and 50 NIS per day (US $8 to 13) collecting gravel near the border with Israel and used for building material. Although modest, this income was desperately needed by the family. ‘We don’t have much gravel in Gaza because Israel doesn’t allow the entry of construction materials, so I decided to go there. I would wake up everyday at dawn, prepare the donkey cart, and later sell the gravel for 3 NIS (US $0.80) a bucket to the people trading in construction materials,’ recalls Hasan.

On Saturday, 22 May 2010, Hasan went as usual to the industrial zone to collect gravel with his cousin. ‘Many other youngsters and children were working in the same area with us,’ remembers Hasan. ‘There were around 100 workers or even more. Israeli soldiers were observing us from the watch tower on the border, and would sometimes fire bullets in the air or at us, or at the donkeys. Sometimes they actually shot the donkeys.’ At around 6:30am, Hasan heard a gun shot. ‘I was collecting gravel with the other workers about 300 metres from the border fence, when one of the Israeli soldiers in the watch tower fired a shot which hit me in the right leg. I immediately fell to the ground in great pain. Everyone started running away, except for one youngster who I didn’t know, who came and tried to help me, but he couldn’t lift me.’ In the meantime, the soldiers kept firing and the boy who came to help Hasan also had to run away.

‘I stayed on the ground for about 15 minutes whilst my leg was bleeding,’ recalls Hasan, ‘then my cousin arrived and took me to the main street in his donkey cart.’ Soon afterwards an ambulance arrived and rushed Hasan to Kamal Odwan Hospital, where his wound was treated and his shattered leg was placed in plaster. ‘My leg was in plaster for two months,’ says Hasan, ‘and now I still can’t walk properly and feel pain whenever I move it. I don’t know when I will be able to walk again, and I know I won’t be able to go back to collecting gravel, even though my family needs the money, and there are no other alternatives.’

According to the UNDP and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, during the first half of 2009, the youth unemployment rate in Gaza for 15 to 19 year-olds reached 57.5 percent.

1 September 2010

A PDFs describing this  incident is available at Voices from the Occupation.

Case 2

Name:    Awad W.
Date of Incident:  7 June 2010
Age:     17
Location:   The Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Nature of Incident:   Shot whilst collecting building material

On 7 June 2010, a 17-year-old boy is shot in the right knee whilst collecting building material in the Gaza Strip, 350 metres from the border fence with Israel.

Awad lives with his parents and seven brothers and sisters in the town of Jabalia, in the north of the Gaza Strip. The family’s economic situation started to deteriorate several years ago when Palestinian workers, including Awad’s father, lost their permits to work inside Israel. At the same time Awad lost his motivation to go to school and dropped out two years ago.

‘Since I dropped out of school, I have worked at many things. I sold vegetables in the market and I worked in construction, when there was construction work, although it is now rare to find work in construction because materials are not allowed into Gaza.’

Awad recalls that it was in early March that he first heard about a new kind of work. ‘I heard children from the neighbourhood talking about collecting gravel from the evacuated Israeli settlements and from the Erez industrial zone, north of Beit Hanoun. The work basically involves collecting gravel scattered on the ground and putting it in sacks, which are then sold for between 30 and 40 NIS (US $8 to 11) per sack.’ Awad’s older brother Naser, was the first in the family to do the work, followed soon by Awad and his younger brother, Ahmad. ‘The three of us would wake up every day at around 5:30am and leave to collect gravel. We were not the only ones doing this type of work. Hundreds of youngsters aged between 13 and 22 used to work with us, despite the danger we faced because we were close to the Israeli border.’

In May, Awad recalls that the family donkey was shot dead by Israeli soldiers whilst they were collecting gravel. ‘The money we made from the work wasn’t enough to buy a new donkey, which costs around 300 Jordanian dinars (US $425), but we needed to buy one anyway. We continued to work despite the danger, the exhaustion and the heat. We had to keep working despite seeing youngsters being shot at and injured by Israeli soldiers at the border fence.’

On Monday, 7 June 2010, Awad was collecting gravel as usual with his brothers in the Erez industrial zone. ‘At around 9:30am, I bent over to pick up some gravel when I heard a shot being fired. The bullet hit me in the right knee and I fell over in great pain,’ recalls Awad. ‘Youngsters around me started running in all directions and I saw my brothers running towards me.’ Soon after his brothers arrived, Awad fainted, waking up later in hospital. ‘Since that day,’ says Ahmad, ‘I’ve been feeling numbness in my right leg and I can’t walk on it like I used to. I don’t go to work anymore, but Ahmad and Naser still go. Doctors Without Borders visit me every two days and give me physical therapy, but I can’t walk for long like I did in the past.’

In the years prior to the blockade, 10,400 trucks would enter Gaza each month. In August 2010, after an easing of restrictions following the flotilla incident, just 4,381 trucks were permitted to enter, a shortfall of 6,019 trucks, or 58 percent. [Source: Paltrade, the UN (OCHA) and the Coordination Committee in Gaza]

6 September 2010

A PDFs describing this  incident is available at Voices from the Occupation.

For more information, contact:
Gerard Horton
International Advocacy Officer – Lawyer
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Tel: +972 2 242 75 30 ext. 103
Fax: +972 2 242 70 18
Mobile: + 972 0599 087 290

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