A breadwinner at a time of famine

Families have been forced to flee Jabaliya refugee camp once again. 

Khaled Daoud APA images

Muhammad Abu Amira is now living in a tent. Less than two weeks ago, he and his family were forced to leave their home in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza.

It was the second time that the family have been displaced since the current genocidal war began. They previously had to evacuate Jabaliya when it was under Israeli bombardment in December.

On that occasion, the family went to a warehouse used by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).

“We only took our IDs,” Muhammad, 28, said. “We were unable to carry any luggage or food.”

They spent 25 days at the warehouse. Conditions were appalling.

“We struggled to find the simplest necessities of life,” Muhammad said.

“To use the bathrooms, we had to join long queues and wait our turn. The lack of water was a major problem.”

After the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Jabaliya camp, Muhammad and his family returned to their home. It was severely damaged.

“We didn’t have much energy,” Muhammad said.

“Our mental health was destroyed and we didn’t have any supplies of food. We weren’t even able to remove the rubble from the house for a long time.”

Muhammad is a graphic designer. His work depends on electricity and the internet.

Since the beginning of the war, Israel has cut off electricity and bombed communications networks. Finding an internet connection is difficult.

Under those conditions, Muhammad has not been able to work for several months. He has lost his source of income.

The sole breadwinner in his family, he takes care of his parents and his 18-year-old sister Nermin.


He had to use his savings to survive. Most of that money has now ran out.

Large parts of Jabaliya were razed in the first few months of the war.

“I did not expect that it would be invaded by land again,” Muhammad said.

Yet on the night of 10 May, Israel fired missiles on various places in Jabaliya.

“It was a nightmare,” Muhammad said. “We felt as if the house would collapse on our heads. The noise of the missiles still haunts me.”

The Israeli military dropped leaflets on Jabaliya the following morning. They contained orders for an evacuation.

“I did not know where we would go this time,” Muhammad said. “But I managed to take mattresses with us because I did not want my family to sleep on the ground.”

The family went to al-Amal Institute for Orphans in Gaza City, where they pitched a tent.

After ordering its evacuation, Israeli troops have invaded Jabaliya camp once again.

“I do not know if my family’s home has been bombed or bulldozed,” Muhammad said.

The family are anything but safe in their current location as Israel has been carrying out attacks nearby. They are struggling to find food, water and medicine.

The World Food Programme has declared a full-blown famine in the northern part of Gaza.

“I fear that I will be injured or killed as I am the sole breadwinner for my family,” Muhammad said. “My parents are old and my sister is young.”

Aseel Mousa is a journalist from Gaza.