The Challenge of Feeding a Family in Gaza

NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Rania Elhilou, Communications Officer at ANERA – Gaza City.

December, 2010: Randa Al-Jarousha has seven children. Her husband is jobless. He used to work in construction but he got sick and lost his job. Even if he gets better, his chances of finding another construction job are slim since building materials are in short supply.

Most days, Randa sends her son to school without breakfast and relies on the fortified snacks offered in the Milk for Preschoolers program run by ANERA.

“At least I know my son Mohammed can get milk and biscuits every day. Milk is too expensive for me now and I can’t afford to give him protein-rich food like eggs or meat.” A neighbor recently donated three little chickens, which Randa is raising and eventually will cook for her children.

Randa is not alone. The jobless rate now is estimated at 50 percent, one of the world’s highest. That means one out of two Palestinian workers in Gaza cannot find a job.

Somehow they still need to put food on the table. But the price of food is soaring.

A bag of small pita breads costs about $2. A family of seven would need a bag of bread every day but that would cost $14 and without an income, mothers like Randa must do without. She just shakes her head, “Shopping in the market now is a nightmare.”

With no or very little resources, how often can a mother buy a kilo of potatoes at $1.50? Or, a kilo of tomatoes, at $1.50, triple what it cost last summer. A kilo of rice now runs about $2.50. It was only $2 six months ago. A kilo of meat would cost at least $15 – a rare luxury that some families might be able to enjoy every four months or so.

A can of powdered milk runs about $4 and will feed one child for a week. So, most mothers buy larger packages of powdered milk, which can feed more for less. But a kilo of powdered milk will cost more than $13, depending on the quality. So, mothers resort to diluting the milk with a lot of water, which might satisfy their youngster’s thirst but not his nutritional intake. Fresh milk at $2.70 a liter is beyond most budgets.

I now see children scavenging in the garbage to collect plastic bottles and other bits and pieces that they can sell in the market to help their parents buy food.

It’s true that we are less dependent on products smuggled through the tunnels from Egypt now that more products are coming in legally from Israel. But that doesn’t mean we can afford them.

Little has changed for families here. And for most, life is just getting harder.

ABOUT ANERA: For more than 40 years, ANERA has been a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the Middle East. In FY 2009, the relief and development agency delivered more than $50 million of programs to the people of the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. For more information, go to

Photo courtesy of ANERA


Beth S.
Beth S7 years ago

The directors of the UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank, John Ging and Barbara Shenstone, have both quit their jobs. Neither gave an explanation.

"Barbara and John have made exceptional contributions to UNRWA's work under the most difficult circumstances: their commitment to ensuring the quality of UNRWA services has been extraordinary," Grandi added.

John Ging, director of the UNRWA operation in Gaza since February 2006, found himself caught in the dilemma of defending the legitimacy of his employees - many of whom have connections with terrorist entities - and warning those same employees to maintain neutrality while on the job.

It was a difficult balancing act, especially when Hamas police raided a UNRWA warehouse, stealing thousands of blankets and food parcels intended for the region's poor. He has in the past been the target of recriminations by the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza as well.

Ging also has been the target of several assassination attempts over the past year. In November, Israel allowed U.N. Security personnel in the region to arm themselves with four German-made submachine guns to fend off terrorists who have repeated tried to murder Ging.

Shenstone reportedly refused to negotiate with UNRWA workers during a strike a few months ago that shut down services in the region. According to Ma'an, she had described workers' demands at the time as "absurd," and refused to discuss paying "wages they didn't receive the last time they went on strike…

Beth S.
Beth S7 years ago

The behavior of Israel is quite justified. Any other country would have responded far faster and far more severely than did Israel. The Gazans are being abused by the ARABS and IRANIANS, who shamelessly use them for their own ends.

neil a.
Neil A7 years ago

The behaviour of the present Israeli admin is beyond inhuman they are so totally despicable & defy international law BUT THE SHITTY USA supports these Israeli war criminals.

Colin Hope
Colin Hope7 years ago

Thanks for the article!!

Ahron E.
Ahron E7 years ago

James J. D. here is the Hamas charter

here it calls for the end of Israel. Hamas is the aggressor Israel defends itself. Stop telling lies.

Jennifer E.
Jennifer E7 years ago

Has anyone found out which Muslim countries accept Israel has a right to exist, and do not want to annihilate it? If only people could let others live in peace instead of wanting to kill everyone who thinks differently from yourself.

Beth S.
Beth S7 years ago

Even Fatah Appeals to Israel to Fight Islamist Extremists

Andrew Bolt, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 09:29am

Once again, WikiLeaks confirms a conservative take on world politics:

MEMBERS of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah party asked Israel to attack rival Palestinian movement Hamas in 2007, diplomatic cables leaked by whistleblower WikiLeaks show.

The latest batch of cables quote the head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency as telling US officials that "demoralised" Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip had asked for help against the growing strength of Hamas.

"They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas," Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told US officials. "They are desperate."…

"They understand that Israel’s security is central to their survival in the struggle with Hamas in the West Bank," he said during the June 2007 meeting.

'Now I see why Care2Causes came out with a piece castigating Assange on the alleged sex charges. If C2C can smear him, they can deligitimize and/or mitigate the impact of the revelation of the PA asking Israel to fight Hamas. I knew there had to be a connection, and there are probably many more. - Beth]

Terry B.
Terry B7 years ago

Mohsen says:

samantha said "Israel is the only country that would take these people in the first place no one else wanted them not Egypt not Iraq not Syria not Jordan."

Where did 'these people' come from?

That's a good question and it deserves an answer.

Actually they came from Hejaz and Nejd (now part of Arabia).

At the turn of the last century arab bedouin sand bandits kept raiding the southern provinces of the (mohammedean!) Ottoman Empire, thinly settled by Jews, Druze, and Christians. The Ottomans had governed the are peacefully for over 400 years but the incursions were getting tiresome for Sultan Abdul Hamid and his successor, Mohammed V, so they invited Theodor Herzl and the Zionists to come and settle the area, figuring that an increased civilian population would increase the tax base and decrease the raids from the wandering arabs, of whom very few were settled.

That equilibrium was shattered when the British won World War I and took over the area as a mandate from the League of Nations, and we all know what happened after that.

James J. D.
James David7 years ago

Here is the link of the Israelis shooting and killing a 20 year-old Gazan on Christmas eve:

or google Mondoweiss.

In refererence to Hamas, the organization has been around for a long time, and for most of that time, the United States did not label it a terrorist organization. Hamas has a military wing, but the majority of its efforts have been in providing welfare, medical care, and education to dirt-poor Palestinians who would have to do without but for Hamas.

Most of the rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel have been in retaliation for Israel's continued raids into Gaza resulting in hundreds of deaths to innocent Palestinian civilians. According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, only 13 Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets in the past seven years. compared to more than 1500 Palestinains killed by Israeli bombings and missile strikes. Of these 1500 killed, more than 400 have been women and children.

The Israelis are to the Palestinians like a 250-pound wrestler assaulting a 4-year-old child. Without pressure from the U.S., the Israeli government will go right on killing Palestinians, taking their land and expanding Israeli settlements. And Palestinians, weak as they are (they have no army, no air force, no navy, no country and no international help because the U.S. blocks all such attempts), will go right on resisting as best they c

mohsen f.
mohsen f.7 years ago

samantha said "Israel is the only country that would take these people inthe first place no one else wanted them not Egypt not Iraq not Syria not Jordan."

Where did 'these people' come from?
fathers and ancestor of these people have lived in this land, why they should go to another part of the world? This part of the world belong to them
look at this please: