My name is Sabri Mustafa Attalah. I am the owner of this pottery factory.

 

My father learnt this profession from his father and he inherited the profession from his father. Anyone who learns this profession will fall in love with it.

 

If I told you when I started you won't believe me. I’ve had this job since I was a child. We used to go to school and after we came back we worked on the wheel.

 

During first, then second, and third grade I was with my father until I learnt this profession. You might think that I overrate myself but I was one of the best students until the 12th grade, I collected many prizes.

 

There were 20 workers working at the factory, including my sons. I used to export my goods. I was exporting it to Israel and the West Bank. I used to buy all the products for the pottery from the Gaza Strip. There were around 20 or 22 pottery factories in the Gaza Strip back then. This was before the blockade.

 

Today, there are only five factories. Including my brothers’ factories. Between me and my brothers we have four factories, and there is another factory that does not belong to our family. The rest have closed because there is no market in Gaza.

 

There are no exports, how could we do it? Even if the crossings open we won't be able to export because we don't have an independent port.

 

Before we used to produce lots of different items of pottery. Such as flasks and vases, plates, pots, and bowls. We used to produce all of that. Today it is just limited to Gaza. We only make what is needed in Gaza and mostly products used for food.

 

I am 62 years old. I overwork myself. It’s not like when I was young, at 35 or 40 years old. I can't do the same amount of work like I did before; the packaging, loading and delivering. I’ve lost my strength.

 

We are in a situation no one wants to be in. The blockade, the agony that we are living in, the electricity crises, there are many things. In 1994 I had six sons at university. I wasn't affected by the cost of their university tuition at all. Today I have three more whose tuition I am unable to cover.

 

I hope the situation will get better for everyone, not just for us. Once there were up to 70,000 workers working in Israel. When you went to Erez crossing it felt like all of Gaza was going into Israel to work. Today who can go? Just 100 or 200 traders and even they need expenses to go from one place to another.

 

My sons don't want this factory. It is tiring and they want to depend on technology, pens and paper.

 

Some of my sons have learnt this profession, but they left it. They received their education at university and they work as teachers.

 

If I didn't work at the machine by myself, the profession won't go forward and the factory will stop. I have to do the job, If I don’t do it, it will vanish. Any profession that doesn't produce a good income won’t last.

 

This is our heritage, the heritage of Palestinian people. If you search the ancient places in Gaza or go to the streets of the old city, you will see the domes that were built from pottery, even the walls were built from pottery.

“Anyone who learns this profession will fall in love with it" 

Mustafa Attalah