Devastation on a scale beyond word’s. Al Shejayia neighbourhood,east Gaza city. As we drove through the neighbourhood, when you thought it could not get worse, you turn a corner and it does. House after house, home after home, street after street… levelled, turned to dust and rubble. There is very little left of what once was a residential area . Over 8,000 homes in this neighbourhood of Gaza alone have been either partially or totally demolished . When you see the childrens’ toys, shoes , ladies clothes, broken beds , personal items, you are reminded that this is not just a building, not just a news story and should never be remembered as such…these are homes, families, mother’s, father’s son’s daughter’s babies,grandparents…. Peoples lives.
Mohammed is in the car with us, Mohammed evacuated his home after 4 rockets hit it killing his 2 brothers as he sat with them drinking coffee, . He explains It was 4.30 a.m. He was sitting in the porch area outside his family home, drinking coffee with his brother’s, Rani and Ali, when 4 rockets hit the house, hitting the porch and his brothers. Both brothers were seriously injured, Rani ( 30 years old) died almost immediately and Ali ( 16 years) 4 hours later in hospital. Many more family members inside the house were injured, including the children who were subsequently taken to Turkey ( after the ceasefire) for treatment. The shells continued even as they were attempting to take the dead and injured to hospital, in fact, one shell hit the car they were travelling in..Behind them in an open garden area , 45 shells hit alone.
As we drive, he explains stories of each street. The street where many people were shot dead as they ran from the bombing’s, the street where the Israeli tanks entered the area, the home where 7 , 10, 12 people were killed. The street where shelling from f16’s continued shooting as ambulances tried to reach the dead and injured…In his area alone, 194 people were murdered…
The mosque, the local Health centre, the kindergarten, All in ruins, the broken shells of what remain will have to be knocked for safety reasons.. Already in Shejayia, men are sifting through the rubble, pulling out anything that may be used for aggregate, re-bar, steel etc but it is little and nothing that can be retrieved. We pass by and stop at El Wafa hospital where during the war shells continued to hit while seriously ill patients were inside. Internationals in this hospital spent many days and nights with the patients and staff hoping to offer some protection with their presence and trying to at least get a safe route for the patients out of the hospital…. All that is left there now is smashed concrete, smoke blackened bits of wall , scattered hospital files and twisted iron of hospital beds and stretchers.
In Al Khubbah area of Al Shajayia, bodies were still being retrieved from beneath the rubble 2 week’s after the ceasefire. 12 members of the same family were killed here while trying to escape. Further along, in the Industrial area, the twisted metal of factories is all that remains.. the juice factory, the cola factory , the biscuit factory….burned, shelled, destroyed…
Before we left, We drove up El Montar mountain , where the water reservoir is situated… Again, what is left of it. The Israelis took over the top of Al Montar during the war and used it a a base.. From here you can look down over Gaza, a largely destroyed Gaza … but a Gaza that will never give up, never give in and a Palestine that will one day be free.
I apologize, I do not have the word’s to describe to you the horror’s, terror, devastation and injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people nor the beauty, resilience, steadfastness and dignity that IS the Palestinian people.
Below are pictures of the devastation seen in Shejayia;
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