Life in the Gaza War Zone

In Gaza, morgues are overrun, food shortages have been reported, and phone service has collapsed entirely.

Access to Gaza's new cemetery near the Israeli border has been cut off, forcing Palestinians to bury the increasing number of dead in old graves near the city center, Palestinians told Haaretz Saturday.

Gaza's morgues are filled with bodies not yet identified by relatives, many of whom cannot travel to claim and bury their dead.

Elsewhere, relatives have complained of difficulties in reaching the many mourners' tents erected by families around the Gaza Strip. Also, because of the collapse of the phone system many families are not informed of the death of a relative for days.

In the past three days the Israel Defense Forces has held a three hour unilateral ceasefire each day allowing rescue forces to clear dead bodies buried beneath rubble. Dozens of bodies were evacuated from the Zeitoun neighborhood on Wednesday and Thursday. For five days, nearly 120 civilians were not allowed by the IDF to leave the area.

For many, the afternoon lulls in the fighting were an opportunity to bathe for the first time in two weeks. Families of up to 30 or 40 people have taken refuge in apartments with only three or four rooms. Residents of the Jabalia and Shati refugee camps, affiliated with both Hamas and Fatah, worked together to provide blankets and food to people who fled their homes closer to the fighting.

Food shortages have been reported, mostly in more isolated refugee camps such as Nusirat. Occasional water shortages are said to be even more serious. In the past two days, electricity was restored for a few hours in some of Gaza's neighborhoods, allowing water to be pumped to the top floors after being out for about a week.

Palestinians complain explosions are constantly heard as are the constant movement of tanks on the ground and planes and drones in the sky.

In the Gazan neighborhood of Tel Hawa, which is home to the Doghmush clan that held British journalist Alan Johnston, local residents stayed in their homes hoping not to be caught in the crossfire. The former photographer of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was killed, along with his wife and her mother, when a missile struck their apartment.

Many Palestinians have started telling jokes to help them get through the hard times. Saturday a Palestinians man named Mustafa retold a joke given to him by his 17-year-old son Basal.

"One Hebron resident tells another that every missile fired by the Israelis costs 100,000 dollars." Mustafa said: "The man replied: 'He's lucky to have such an expensive commodity fall on him from the sky.'"