As people run out of fuel in Gaza, clay ovens are in demand again | Israelo-Palestinian conflict

Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip – The tantalizing smell of burning firewood and freshly baked bread fills the air.

Inshirah Salem al-Aqra, 53, swears to anyone who will listen that food cooked in a taboo over a wood fire is much richer in flavor.

She has been building these traditional clay ovens for a long time for anyone who wants them. Made from clay, animal dung and straw, the kiln is molded by hand and left to dry in the sun.

“People prepare mandi (stewed chicken) in these ovens or make bread,” explains this mother of 10 children.

“In this war, everything is so hard. People need taboos even to prepare coffee or tea,” she added.

Fuel and power outages across much of the Gaza Strip have pushed Palestinians back to tradition as they seek Al-Aqra as the only woman capable of making it a taboo.

It is now the only source of income for her family after Israeli forces burned her husband’s fishing boat last month.

She has made and sold five ovens since last week, ranging in width from 50 cm to 90 cm (20 to 35 inches), more than she would have made in a month in the past.

She kept her old prices, explaining: “I don’t want to take advantage of people, especially in these times. »

The smallest oven costs 80 shekels ($21) and the largest 150 ($40).

The only mill in the Gaza Strip is unable to grind wheat due to lack of fuel after Israel imposed a total siege on the territory.

Al-Aqra opened its house to displaced women taking refuge in neighboring schools.

“They bring me flour so I can make them bread,” she said. “If I have clean water, I also fill their jerry cans. »

She hopes the war, which has killed 13,000 Palestinians and devastated the Gaza Strip, will end soon.

“Enough,” she said.

“We have lost so much. Enough already.”

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