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Middle East
Return to Gaza
Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, who covered Israel's war on Gaza, goes back to the Strip.
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2009 09:10 GMT

More than 100,000 people remain homeless in Gaza [EPA]

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported from the Gaza Strip during Israel's 23-day offensive that ended via unilateral ceasefires in the middle of January. Here she describes what the territory is like on her return.

A porter gives me my first greeting as I cross to the Gazan side of the Erez border with Israel.

"You said you'd be back in a couple of weeks, it's been more than a month!"

It's nice to know I have been missed. Strangely, it felt like I was coming home.

In fact, it's been almost two months since I left Gaza, shortly after the end of Israel's offensive on the territory.

Everything looks exactly the same. Everyone looks exactly the same and, worst of all, as I quickly discover, everyone still feels exactly the same - frustrated and isolated.

In two months, there has been no reconstruction, the siege has tightened and Israel has kept its crossings with Gaza almost permanently closed.

Subtle changes

However, Israel has made subtle changes in the last few weeks.

Fishermen can now fish up to three miles off the coast of Gaza only. It was double that before the war.

Basic supplies for Gazans
remain unavailable [EPA]
Many of Gaza's 3,000 fishermen have given up and don't go out to work any more because the water is too crowded.

Israel has closed one of the commercial crossings into Gaza for no apparent reason. The other two working crossings for goods have had more restrictions placed on their opening times.

Humanitarian aid is still dripping in - about 100 trucks a day - but supplies fall well short of what Gaza needs. And 50,000 people have no clean water. Gaza City experiences electricity cuts of up to 12 hours a day.

As disappointed as I was with the lack of reconstruction, it is not surprising - what is surprising is the lack of foreign journalists in Gaza. Again.

When I left after the war, there were 400 international journalists covering this "uncovered" story.

Complaining they had been locked out, forced to report on Gaza from the periphery. They came, they saw and they left - story over?

There is no military operation in Gaza, but there is still a tragedy taking place worth reporting. It's the same story it has been for two years: siege, occupation, violence, the strangulation of a population.

They ignored it before the war and they are ignoring it again now. I'm not sure why I am so surprised.

Nowhere to go

One thing that is new are the tents ... tents, tents everywhere - every size, every colour and they have one thing in common ... none are withstanding the terrible weather.

Over the past few days there have been severe gales and low temperatures and the tents are falling like paper.

And in Gaza, when your tent is blown away, there is not much anyone can do for you.

Now 100,000 people are homeless and what strikes me as so unfair is that they are not even allowed to be refugees.

Not allowed to flee the war zone and start afresh, in a different place as other people caught in other conflicts are permitted.

They are living on top or underneath or beside or even inside what is left of their homes.

The same homes that hold such painful memories of Israel's 23-day onslaught.

That is where they are forced to live in their tents.

And those are the luckier ones.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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