RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Eric Westervelt has one man's story.
ERIC WESTERVELT: The store, once thrived, but these days you can chart the economic decline of Gaza in the way Sultan has had to sell off his store and home piece by piece over the last two years.
SALAHADIN AL: (Through translator) This is supposed to be a market with meat and everything. But as you can see, we have almost nothing available. Customers ask for rice, oil, beef - I have nothing.
WESTERVELT: Since the militant Islamist group Hamas took over Gaza by force in mid-June, Israel has tightened its crossing points into the territory. Almost nothing is getting exported, and only limited humanitarian food and medical supplies are coming in. Rocket fire into Israel has continued, and now Israel is further tightening the screws.
AL: (Through translator) Things were bad before, but it gets much worse when the Hamas won the elections, and even worse, after they took over all of Gaza.
WESTERVELT: He flips through a book of receipts showing customers all in more than 15,000 Israeli shekels, or nearly $4,000.
AL: (Through translator) People owe me money, but they can't me pay back. And traders are asking me for their money back and I can't pay them. So I'm trapped in the middle.
WESTERVELT: It's not just the store that's been denuded, move upstairs to his apartment, the rooms are all but deserted. The family of five has had to get rid of almost everything to buy food and pay for utilities. A few plastic chairs, floor cushions and a small TV are all that's left of this once comfortable three-bedroom flat.
SULTAN: (Through translator) All this was full of very nice furniture, but as you can see now, it's empty. Nothing here at all.
WESTERVELT: Like many Gaza families, Sultan has had to part with all of wife's gold jewelry, traditionally a mainstay dowry and a foundation of a family's savings here. The hardest cut though, Sultan says, was when he and his wife decided to sell his gold wedding ring.
SULTAN: (Through translator) It was more difficult for me than selling all the shop, but my wife insisted. She said, you have no other choice. You have to sell it.
WESTERVELT: Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Beit Hanoun, Gaza.
(SOUNDBITE OF CART)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.