Despite the ongoing hardships in Gaza caused by Israel’s blockade, Palestinians continue to innovate in very difficult circumstances. Gaza journalist Rami Almeghari, whom I met last year in the Strip, reports:
The relentless Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has squeezed many things, but it hasn’t robbed people of their ability and desire to innovate and invent.
At the Rashad al-Shawa cultural center in heart of Gaza City, dozens of local companies and individuals recently demonstrated hi-tech products and inventions at an exhibition sponsored by government and nongovernmental bodies.
Munther al-Qassas, who holds a diploma in political science and works as a cab driver, stood behind his own invention — a device that helps those who are paralyzed or who have lost the use of limbs to operate a TV set.
The TV remote controller is placed into the device. “As you observe, a person can then use his head, tongue or shoulder to control the TV,” al-Qassas explained as he demonstrated the interface which has two small balls on it that respond to movements from the user. Thousands in Gaza have suffered grievous injuries or permanent paralysis as a result of Israeli military attacks over many years.
The Israeli blockade prevents most electronic and electrical parts from being imported to Gaza, but al-Qassas explained that he was able to make his device using recycled materials including parts of pens, electrical plugs and wires, and toy balls.
The entire project cost just $100, which al-Qassas said, “makes it efficient and affordable, and people who use it can fix it if it breaks.”