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Youth voices from 15 years of the Gaza blockade

Since 2007, the blockade of Gaza is impacting every aspect of life for the Palestinians caught in this conflict. From access to water to a lack of job opportunities, the impacts of the blockade are far reaching, and for the younger generation, limit their chance to build a future.

2022 marks 15 years of the Gaza blockade, which continues to prevent young people from achieving their dreams and living full lives. Their stories are ones of hope and perseverance but also significant hardship and risk.

To bring attention to the plight of the individuals in Gaza, a number of stories from the perspective of young people inside the blockaded zone have been collected. Take a moment to read 3 select stories from this series, stories of real people, with both real dreams and real challenges ahead of them in the face of this harsh blockade.

Mohammed Obaid

Mohammad Obaid is a circus player. He dropped out of undergraduate studies to follow his passion for gymnastics and circus despite the equipment shortage which makes it a dangerous sport. “I feel accomplished when I share the joy with people!” says Mohammad noting the difficulties in maintaining the thin line that resembles the existence of the circus in the Gaza Strip. “Most circus equipment is not allowed to enter, and if it does, it enters after a very difficult process, so we make do with what we have in order to keep it going,” he said.

Wissam Abu Awad

Wissam Abu Awad is a community activist who has been on a constant job search for nearly five years. She is passionate about training and social learning in women’s affairs and the gender sector, so she does it voluntarily because she cannot find an opportunity for a professional career. “Because I live in Gaza, and there are hundreds of thousands of graduates who are looking for job opportunities like myself. We are competing for jobs in a closed area,” she said.

Alaa Abu Sleih

Alaa, 23, lives with a physical disability. He was eight years old when the Gaza Strip came under a comprehensive blockade. “I was able to get an advanced battery automated wheelchair into Gaza, but when it broke down, I couldn’t get repair parts, including the wheels and the control panel screen,” said Alaa. “This drove me into depression because I wouldn’t justbe locked up in the Gaza Strip, I would be locked up inside my own home.”

A lifetime of isolation

For 15 years, the blockade of Gaza has closed its people off from the world and their own neighbouring regions. For those born during this time, and now moving into their teenage years, this isolation and hardship has been their entire life. For the youth of Gaza, opportunities grow slimmer and access to vital supplies is short. But dreams are big, and a persevering spirit keeps them going.

Oxfam’s work in Gaza continues. From supplying safe water and sanitation to working with local civil societies to advocate their rights, Oxfam Australia aims to increase opportunities for youth by promoting skills development and business incubation for young people. #OpenUpGaza15