Yunis al Masri was luckier than his two brothers in Gaza. Although the truck that ploughed into their car as they travelled to work in Israel 24 years ago killed Jaber and Kamal instantly, Mr al Masri survived with shattered bones, internal bleeding and brain damage.
Today, aged 49 and after many operations, he has difficulty walking and problems remembering to do things. Any hope of working again was crushed in 1985 amid the car wreckage.
Like tens of thousands of other Palestinian manual labourers who worked inside Israel before Gaza was progressively sealed off to the outside world from the early 1990s, Mr Al Masri had paid regularly into Israel’s social security fund from his salary. Certified as disabled by an Israeli medical committee, he is entitled to a monthly allowance of US$800 (Dh2,900) from Israel’s National Insurance Institute, out of which he has supported his wife and 10 children in their home in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.
In early January, however, the transfers of disability benefits stopped arriving in his bank account in Gaza. About 700 other injured workers are in the same situation.
The reason, they have learnt, is that while the Israeli army was rampaging through the Gaza Strip during its winter assault, the Bank of Israel severed ties with Gaza’s banks.
The ending of financial relations between Israel and Gaza, in a deepening of the three-year blockade of the Hamas-ruled enclave, means Mr al Masri and other disabled workers have been without a source of income for the past nine months.