After huddling at home for 11 days during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the shock of seeing houses and other structures destroyed after yet another conflict tempered Palestinian relief that the fighting was over. “It’s like a tsunami,” Abu Ali said, standing next to the ruins of a 14-story building in Gaza City.
“How can the world be called civilized? This is a crime against humanity. We are governed by jungle laws “He stated this on Friday, just hours after a truce was declared.
Commercial buildings, residential towers, and private homes throughout the Palestinian enclave of 2 million people had been damaged or destroyed by the time Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, announced a cease-fire on Friday.
Israel claims that its air strikes hit legitimate military targets and that it did everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, including providing advance warning when it was about to strike residential buildings that it claimed also had a military purpose.
On Thursday, shortly before the cease-fire, Gaza’s housing ministry reported that 16,800 housing units had been damaged, with 1,800 rendered unfit for human habitation and 1,000 destroyed. According to Palestinian medics, 243 people have been killed in Gaza as a result of air strikes that have pounded the enclave day and night since May 10. According to Israel, 13 people were killed when rockets slammed into homes, synagogues, and other buildings.
“When we returned home, we found destruction,” said Samira Abdallah Naseer, whose two-story house was hit by a blast. “There’s nowhere to sit, no running water, no electricity, no mattresses, nothing.”
After the fourth conflict with Israel since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007, setting up a rival power center to the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Gaza now faces the task of rebuilding.
“We are now back in the quagmire of Gaza reconstruction. Hamas or the Palestinian Authority will carry it out? And who will foot the bill? “Emad Jawdat, a 53-year-old businessman, agreed. “Some people have still not been compensated for their losses in 2014,” he said, referring to the previous 50-day war with Israel.
Gaza’s problems are exacerbated by an Israeli-led blockade, which is also supported by Egypt, which shares a short border with the enclave. Israel claims to be imposing a blockade to prevent weapons from reaching militants. Palestinians refer to it as collective punishment.
Some financial assistance for reconstruction has already been pledged to Palestinians. Egypt, which brokered the truce, announced a $500 million reconstruction fund. US President Joe Biden said his country, which, like the European Union and Israel, considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization, would work with the UN and others to mobilize aid. Hamas claims to be fighting for Palestinian rights in the face of Israeli oppression.
According to Gaza officials, the war caused $40 million in damage to industry, $22 million in damage to the power sector, and $27 million in damage to agricultural facilities. Thousands of Palestinians who lived near the border and had fled to UN schools further south for safety made their way home in the northern Gaza Strip, piling belongings into cars and onto donkey carts and tractors.
As they trudged home through potholed streets and past heaps of broken masonry from damaged buildings, some expressed relief that they had survived – and even a sense of victory – after a conflict with one of the Middle East’s most powerful armies in which militant rockets hit Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. Salwa Al-Batrwai and her family were returning home “victors,” according to the 60-year-old. “I’m going to kiss the ground because I made it out (alive) with my kids. I can’t put into words how I felt” she stated.