Marco Werman: The Gaza Strip is about twice the size of Washington D.C. and it's packed with some 1.8 million people. Imagine a city that size with only 2 ways in or out for people and bombs falling all around you. That's where we start our coverage today of what's happening in the Middle East. Earlier I spoke with Arwa Mhanna. She's a resident with Gaza and she works with the international charity, Oxfam. But like many in Gaza City, her work routine has been seriously disrupted, so we reached her at her home there. Tell us, first of all, what's the situation in your neighborhood, Arwa?
Arwa Mhanna: The situation is very confusing. All of a sudden, I can hear very huge explosions, very close to my place. Then it goes to the calm maybe five minutes, maybe six hours. Then, it goes again to huge booms. In my neighborhood, the streets are completely empty. Most of the shops are closed. People are just staying home because they are so scared to move around.
Werman: So lots of people staying in place. How does that just disrupt daily life?
Mhanna: People cannot go to their work. Most of, if not all, international organizations closed down their offices and people are working from home. People depend on their daily income from their daily work and now they're not able to go to their work which means it has a huge impact sometimes in some places the availability of food in their houses.
Werman: It's Ramadan too and that means people are fasting during the day but typically Muslims have a big family meal or even a banquet for the evening meal, Iftar. What about now?
Mhanna: Exactly, it's Ramadan time and now it's the fasting time. For Muslims, Ramadan is a very family-oriented time, people visit each other, people go out after eating and now all of this doesn't happen. For example, I have my family 5 minutes away from my place and I cannot even visit them since the beginning of the military operation in Gaza.
Werman: What do you do to kind of substitute for the big family meal at the end of the fasting?
Mhanna: We are trying to substitute this with phone calls but most of the phone calls are happening now to us with questions, where the person who is calling asking if everything is okay or not because most of the time we hear about airstrikes next to my family's house, for example, or a friend's house. So even these phone call conversations are all about checking whether or not they're fine, whether they feel safe or not, whether they have anything lacking in terms of food or water or basic needs or not. It's not anymore about how they're spending their time or how they're enjoying this very special time of the year, which is Ramadan.
Werman: So where are people getting basic food stuffs? Are any markets open?
Mhanna: There are a few markets open. The problem is moving and going to the markets. It's very dangerous to move in the streets. It's not only dangerous at night time but at day time too because you can never know where and when the airstrike will take place. For example, we have had one of our Oxfam beneficiaries who receives food vouchers on a weekly basis - two days ago he was killed in an airstrike on his way back from the market while he was shopping for food.
Werman: There are many, many sad stories like that. As you point out, you work for Oxfam and your organization typically assists people often with food. Do you have inventories of food or are you also hindered, is Oxfam also hindered by the attacks and unable to find food to distribute?
Mhanna: Usually we work through our local partners. We have local partners working in different sectors. For example, for the food security partners, they told us that they have enough stock of food which can be enough for the coming 1 or 2 weeks.
Werman: What about those notorious tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza. Are they being used at all to transport supplies into the Gaza Strip?
Mhanna: Most of them have been destroyed. Food items in Gaza stopped depending on the tunnels during the last year and now it's mainly depending on the local production and the goods that are coming from Israel. On the same note, the only good crossing connecting Gaza with Israel has been closed during the last 2 days and if this continues this will have a huge impact on the availability of food in Gaza.
Werman: Arwa Mhanna, stay safe and thank you very much for telling us about the situation in your neighborhood in Gaza. Greatly appreciated.
Mhanna: Thank you.