Under an unbearable sun, with drones and F16s hovering menacingly overhead, young men, women and small boys wait in a seemingly never-ending line at the two Tal Al Hawa Bakeries, in West Gaza City. Some men use pizza cartons to protect their heads from the sun.
“I have been waiting here half a day to get just one sack of bread,” says 26-year-old Mohammed Abu Shammalah.
He doesn’t only have to worry about keeping his 11 siblings alive amid the relentless Israeli air, naval and artillery strikes, but also how to bring home one of the most basic foods for any family - bread.
It's 6:30 PM, but he can’t go home empty-handed. “There is no food to eat at home, nothing” he says. Even vegetables are becoming expensive as farming land has also become inaccessible to farmers due to the constant bombing for more than 3 weeks.
Shammalah says the biggest problem for many is how the bombing of the electricity plant has forced most of Gaza’s bakeries to shut down. No power equals no fresh bread.
The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs notes in a report published Thursday on food security in Gaza said: “The ongoing reduction of electricity supply will heavily impact the commercial activities, the milling capacity and the bakeries performance.”
The situation in Gaza is one of no supply to meet a huge demand. The owner of the bakery - Mohammed al-Jarwsha- is well aware of this as hundreds of anxious, hungry and hot customers wait outside his shop door.
Shammalah says that his mother might have been able to bake some bread, except that she has no electricity or cooking gas, like so many others in Gaza. Several suppliers of gas cylinders, in Gaza City, are not able to distribute what small supplies they have because of Israel’s present bombing and shelling.
Another factor contributing to the lack of gas is that most distributors are located in parts of eastern Gaza City which are presently inaccessible, following this week’s heavy Israeli bombardment.
Even the dough in his fridge has spoiled as it has no power. There is no doubt in his mind that this is collective punishment.
“This is meant to make us - the people - hate Hamas and turn against it. But the result is the opposite, the people have become closer to Hamas,” he said, as ambulances nearby try to rush through the crowds waiting for bread, shouting at people to let them through.
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