Gaza City:  The payday line at a downtown ATM here in Gaza City was dozens deep with government clerks and pensioners, waiting to get what cash they could.

Muhammad Abu Shaaban, 45, forced into retirement two months ago, stood six hours to withdraw a $285 monthly check — a steep reduction from his $1320 salary as a member of the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guard.

“Life has become completely different,” Abu Shaaban said, his eyes welling up. He has stopped paying a son’s college tuition. He buys his wife vegetables to cook for their six children, not meat.

And the pay he’d just collected was almost entirely spoken for to pay off last month’s grocery bills. “At most, I’ll have no money left in five days,” he said.

Across Gaza, the densely populated enclave of 2 million Palestinians sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, daily life, long a struggle, is unraveling before people’s eyes.

Read the article by David M. Halbfinger in The Age (from The New York Times)

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