Monday, May 29, 2023

Entire families have taken to the streets in Gaza as clashes with Israel

Palestinian Belal Nabhan sits in a wheelchair amid the rubble of his house in Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip, shelled by Israel, May 15, 2023.

Najah Nabhan, a 56-year-old Palestinian, wonders what will happen to her and her large family, left homeless after an Israeli shelling destroyed their home in the Gaza Strip.

“My neighbors lent me clothes for them, I didn’t take anything, I barely had time to go out and the house was bombed,” he told AFP from Bir al Najeh, next to concrete blocks stood, which is the only thing left from his house.

Clashes between Palestinian armed movements and Israel lasted five days and left dozens dead.

Dozens of homes were destroyed during the hostilities, which flared up when Israeli forces launched attacks on senior officials of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.

The family of 56-year-old Nabhan has been sleeping in the ruins of their home in Beit Lahiya since Saturday.

Nabhan tries to take care of his children and grandchildren, many of whom suffer from physical disabilities.

His family said they had been warned by a phone call from the Israeli army that an attack was imminent, but the army did not give details of why it attacked the house when questioned by AFP.

In total, 103 homes were completely destroyed and 140 were seriously damaged, the United Nations said on Tuesday, citing Gaza officials.

Belal, 35, makes just 10 shekels ($2.70) a day selling parsley at the Nabhan market and says he is still in shock.

“People were screaming and we ran (…) People live here now. Where are they going? They need shelter,” he says as his relatives rest among the rubble.

Israel and Palestinian militias have fought several wars in recent years in Gaza, ruled by the Islamist group Hamas.

With the poverty rate reaching 53% of the population, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, very few could afford to rebuild their homes.

– ‘My dreams have disappeared’ –

In Deir al-Bala, in the center of Gaza, a group of children sit on a mound of cement and iron destroyed by an Israeli bombardment.

Mohamed Zidan’s house in this crowded area escaped a direct hit, but the explosion was so strong that it brought down the walls.

“To kill one person, you don’t have to destroy an entire apartment building,” says the 29-year-old.

“I’m a young man, I live in my house, at home with my children. I’m focused on work. What’s my fault?”, he affirms.

On Monday, while Zidan stood among the remains of his bedroom, Palestinians celebrated the 75th anniversary of the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” as they mark the creation of the state of Israel.

The date marks the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the war that began with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

“We will continue to live the life of ‘Nakba’,” said Zidane, who now sleeps in the street behind his house.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why it attacked the neighborhood.

A fragile truce has been in place since Saturday, ending several rounds of Israeli strikes and rocket volleys from Palestinian fighters.

The conflict killed 33 people in Gaza, a balance including combatants and civilians, including children, and killed two civilians in Israel.

Hanin Nabhan, a young woman in a donated wheelchair, says she fainted when she heard her house had been destroyed.

“All my dreams were in that house and my dreams are gone now,” he said.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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