Displaced by Israeli bombs, Gazans camp through the rubble of their homes
GAZA: Tents have replaced some skyscrapers in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the Gaza Strip, where heavy Israeli airstrikes have left several families homeless and doubt that reconstruction will start soon.
Palestinians in the enclave have already received pledges of financial aid for reconstruction after 11 days of fighting. Egypt and Qatar, which helped mediate a truce that began on Friday, have each pledged US $ 500 million.
In Beit Lahiya, children played among the rubble of houses. The adults drank tea on broken furniture. The banners bore the names of the private owners. A sign bore the names of four children, two women and two men killed in the bombing.
Abdallah Zawaraa and his family survived one of these strikes on May 13. The 23-year-old barber, his mother and siblings were visiting relatives when their home was reduced to rubble.
“After the bombing, we have no place to live except the tent,” he told Reuters, saying the family were looking for a house to rent.
Citing stories of Palestinians whose homes have yet to be rebuilt after the Gaza wars of 2014 and 2008-9, Zawaraa added: “I have become worried and terrified.”
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Witnesses said 30 Israeli airstrikes hit the area during the fighting. Israel said its attacks targeted Palestinian guerrillas and military stocks and that measures had been taken to prevent civilian casualties.
The United States has offered help but has said the Islamist group Hamas, which ruled Gaza and rocketed Israel during the conflict, should not play a role in the reconstruction process. Gaza’s Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar said on Wednesday that his group would not be an obstacle.
Gaza’s Housing Ministry said 1,500 housing units were completely destroyed, 1,500 other housing units were irreparably damaged and another 17,000 were partially damaged. A ministry official estimated the cost of rebuilding the houses at $ 150 million.
The official said 2,000 housing units destroyed in previous armed conflicts have yet to be rebuilt. Their reconstruction would cost an additional $ 200 million, he said.
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At least 254 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 1,900 injured, Palestinian health officials said. Israel said 13 people were killed by Gaza rockets and a guided missile attack.
“I raised my children in this house. We have a lot of memories. Home can come back, but memories can’t, ”Zawaraa’s mother Amena said.
In Gaza City, Zeyad Dahman, a retired official whose house was destroyed in 2014 and has yet to be rebuilt, said he could feel for the new victims.
“I hope that the matter will be resolved soon and that the people whose homes have been destroyed will not suffer the same suffering that we have had to endure for many years,” said Dahman.