Little Evidence of Reconstruction Visible in One of Gaza’s Most Damaged Neighborhoods

January 20, 2015 Jehad Saftawi, IMEU

The most recent Israeli attack on Gaza worsened crises in all aspects of Palestinian life in the area, including the healthcare system and the socio-economic infrastructure. This latest offensive by Israel went on for 51 days, killing over 2,000 Palestinians; this includes entire families, 541 children, 250 women, and 95 elderly men. The Israeli attacks injured over 10,000 Palestinians. Thousands of homes, schools, universities, farmlands, and Palestinian properties were destroyed and as a result, half a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes.

However, the oppression committed by the Israeli government did not end with the recent attacks, as the blockade continues indefinitely. Israel closes Palestinian borders, prevents reconstruction, and commits daily violations of Palestinians' fundamental human rights.

Shojae'a, which is one of the largest neighborhoods in Gaza, was also one of the most intensely bombed during Israel’s summer offensive. Before the attacks, more than 250,000 Palestinians lived there. Now, months later, few voices can be heard in the streets.

Some of those whose properties were partly destroyed in Israel's bombings returned to live in what remained of their homes. I met a group of young men playing soccer in the yard of a bombed school when I visited. I asked them how their lives had changed and how they spent their time now, and this is what they had to say.

Baraa Nabil Sersawi, 18 years old:

We try to gather the rest of the youth in the neighborhood to play football. As you can see, the school playground was destroyed by the bombings; that is why it is always full of rainwater, stones, glass, and rubble, which we have to clean every time we want to play.

I still live with my family in our house in Shojae'a, even though it is uninhabitable due to the large number of Israeli tank shells which destroyed our home. We have nowhere else to go. A few families living in our neighborhood tried to fix their houses for shelter. However, the rest of the population either had their homes completely destroyed, or parts of their homes remain standing but are completely emptied out from within.

Emad Saeed Sersawi, 20 years old:

Thank God that our house is still standing. The buildings in front were totally destroyed. We feel like we are living in the desert, because everything is destroyed and empty.

We don't have a good place to get together, because all of the areas in Shojae'a have been destroyed. They all look the same. The stadiums and parks that we used to spend time at, the streets that we used to love and play in — they are all rubble, broken glass, and broken stones. They even deprived us of our streets.

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