Despite Israel's wars and blockade, Gaza's population surpasses 2.3 million: Hamas interior ministry
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said recently that the population of the impoverished coastal enclave has reached 2,375,259 million people by the end of 2022, and most are suffering consequences from the 'illegal' Israeli blockade.
"About 50.7 per cent (1,204,986) of the population are males, while the females amount to 49.3 per cent of the Gazans (1,170,273)," the interior ministry said in a press statement sent to The New Arab.
"Year by year, the coastal enclave records a significant increase in the number of people despite the fact that most of them have been suffering from poverty, unemployment, as well as food insecurity, resulting from the Israeli blockade," the ministry added.
Since 2007, the Palestinians in Gaza suffer from extremely difficult living conditions due to the Israeli-imposed blockade on the coastal enclave after Hamas, which won the legislative elections, seized the territory from Fatah.
Moreover, the Israeli army launched five large-scale wars and dozens of short military raids against the Palestinians in Gaza, which left thousands dead and destroyed thousands of residential and industrial as well as government buildings.
An unliveable life: Surges in unemployment, population threaten to paralyse #Gaza - https://t.co/QsShesMtAh on @The_NewArab #Palestine pic.twitter.com/mFxBfpWwCG— al whit🍉 (@soitiz) January 18, 2022
In 2012, the United Nations said in its annual report that the Gaza Strip will be "unlivable" if the Israeli blockade persists. Since then, the UN repeatedly warned of the sharp deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
"Despite the fact that the locals live with minimum or less basic services as the exacerbation of humanitarian crises, there is a significant increase in the number of newborn babies," Mohammed Eliyan, a family planning medical at al-Nusirat medical centre belonging to the UNRWA, said to TNA.
In UNRWA medical centres, Eliyan says, "we have adopted family planning programs to encourage the mothers to not give birth to a lot of babies to make sure that [new babies] will have their rights to live a normal and healthy life."
"Sometimes, we find there are some positive reactions from the mothers, but at other times we challenged some obstacles mainly from those who have two or three babies," he noted.
Alaa Mashaal, a Gaza-based mother of three kids, is one mother in poverty who regularly faces many challenges in providing basic needs for their children.
"We cannot stop giving birth to our babies as we have social traditions of having many kids in the same family," the 25-year-old mother said to TNA. "I really struggle to raise my babies and even let them live at a stable level."
She said that her husband cannot earn more than $US 15 a day working at a local supermarket despite being a university graduate.
"We have big dreams, but our bitter reality prevents us from achieving the minimum of our goals," she added.
Linda Atallah, another Gaza-based mother of eight, wished not to have had some limitations in birthing her children as she's unable to take care of all of them.
"I gave birth to six of them before 2007, when my husband was working in Israel and we had a lot of money to feed them and take care of all of them," the 52-year-old mother recalled. "But the last two sons were born in 2010 and 2014, just as we became poor."
"Nowadays neither my husband nor international institutions, which are at least providing us with some food, can help me protect my family from starvation, poverty, or the unknown, because of the current unprecedented situation," she added.
About 64 per cent of the population in Gaza is in poverty, with 33 per cent of the population in extreme poverty, and 57 per cent experiencing food insecurity, according to official statistics issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
Maher Al-Tabbaa, Director of Public Relations at the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the Strip is still impacted by the imposed Israeli blockade and repeated Israeli wars and military attacks, which unceasingly deepens the economic crisis, particularly as a result of the massive damage on Gaza's infrastructure.
Al-Tabbaa called on the international community to carry out its duties towards the civilian population in the besieged Gaza Strip, provide their basic needs and liberate them from the "largest prison in history" and put real and serious pressure on Israel to immediately end the "unjust" blockade.