Children work to feed their families in Gaza

One of the many families displaced to Rafah in southern Gaza. 

Abed Rahim Khatib DPA via ZUMA Press

Azzam looks pale and sad as he tries to sell some homemade biscuits.

At the age of 8, he has to provide income for his family, who have been uprooted from their home.

The family lived in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, and fled to the southern city of Rafah during the early stages of the current genocidal war. Their home is among the many buildings that Israel has destroyed in Beit Hanoun.

“All I want is to go back to Beit Hanoun and build our home again,” Azzam said.

Before the war, Azzam’s father ran a store selling cellphones. The family had to leave that business and so much else behind.

Azzam is the eldest of three children.

Each morning his mother wakes up early to cook biscuits on a fire. Azzam then takes them to a market area so that he can sell them there.

Azzam’s father is unable to help sell the biscuits as he is busy searching for water. That involves queuing for hours and carrying large containers.

The working day is long. Azzam starts at 8 am and he doesn’t get back to his parents until the evening.

He makes approximately $8 per day, sometimes less.

It is a meager sum considering that the prices of food and other essentials have soared over the past six months. His family can only eat one meal per day.

“I get very tired,” Azzam said. “But I feel happy if I sell all the biscuits.”

“I miss hugging my dad”

Azzam is one of many children who are working as street vendors amid the current war.

Farah, 10, walks between tents for displaced people in Rafah every morning, asking people to buy pastries baked by her mother.

The pastries have been made with flour received in aid packages. The family then uses any money it makes to buy vegetables and other goods.

Farah, her siblings and their mother have been displaced from northern Gaza, where her father has remained.

“I miss hugging my dad,” Farah said. “And I miss playing with my friends at school.”

Saaya, 12, sells embroidered bracelets that she makes herself.

“I really wanted to eat biscuits, potato chips and chocolate,” Saaya said. “But my mother told me that they were very expensive and she couldn’t buy them for me.”

Saaya is from Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. After the family were displaced from there, they moved in with her aunt in Rafah.

Israel has inflicted massive destruction on Jabaliya.

Saaya’s family has seen photographs of their old home. It has been attacked and severely damaged.

When leaving the north, Saaya took a box of beads from her home with her. She is now making bracelets with those beads.

Fedaa al-Qedra is a journalist in Gaza.