What you can and cannot buy in the Gaza strip

The first thing I noticed (after a long day traveling across the Sinai), is that our toilet is Israeli.  Our water heater as well.  All of the washing machines at the washing machine store down the street come from Israel, as does the one on our kitchen.  And, perhaps most surprising, I discovered a used bag of fertilizer at the olive grove near the buffer zone I had been at last week — also Israeli.

As I was conducting the science experiment that is taking a shower this morning (I never know what will happen after, will my skin burn, will my hair stink or turn brittle, will the lotion absorb into my skin or just slide around on the surface  until I just give up?), I realized the perverse irony in Israel’s list of permissible items: expensive capital goods which require water — and indeed pollute water — are allowed into Gaza, but equipment that treats water and sewage is forbidden (Israel damaged Gaza’s sewage treatment facilities during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09).  Odd, that Israel forbids pasta and lentils from entering Gaza, but fertilizer is okay.

Notes from a Western activist who recently moved to the Gaza strip. Follow the blog.