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From the field

Gaza Today

The bombings of the Gaza Strip began a year ago today. For hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, last summer’s nightmare has become an ongoing reality. There are now some 100,000 displaced persons in Gaza living with relatives or in rented homes, in tents, or in the ruins of their old homes. Nearly 20,000 houses were partly or completely destroyed last summer, and hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza still live in 150,000 damaged residences. After the fighting ended, B'Tselem continued to report the stories of Gazans who are still dealing with its aftermath.
The mood in Khuza’ah is terrible and makes me not want to study. The streets and houses are in ruins. Wherever you go you see wreckage and pictures of the dead on walls and doors. When the school year began, it was very hard for me to concentrate. I kept thinking about our life before the war and how we’re homeless now. The war forced us into a terrible reality.
Maha Abu Mutlaq, a 17-year-old high school student
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My friend ‘Alaa Abu Dahruj was killed in a bombing last summer. The soccer club put up a big picture of ‘Alla and named one of the teams after him. Since he was killed, I don’t play soccer as much. My love for the game had to do with our friendship. I’m still in shock over what happened and I hope there won’t be another war. I’m afraid of losing more friends.
Mu’taz al-‘Azayzeh, a 16-year-old high school student
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At midnight, the Israeli air force bombed the tower where our apartment had been. When the first missile hit the tower, I remembered how ‘Ahed and I began to look for an apartment to buy, and how we painted our place and arranged our furniture. I thought about my life with ‘Ahed in our apartment. I recalled the renovations and the new furniture we bought. We lived there together for nine years.
Mayadah Zaqut
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My son’s wife told me we had to leave the building because it was about to be bombed. Neighbors were carrying children and belongings. Some people said the missiles would be aimed at the 11th floor, where Hamas had a communications office. We heard two blasts and the tower collapsed. My heart was beating so fast, I thought it would jump out of my chest. Everything was destroyed. I cried and couldn’t believe the tower had come down.
Maryam Abu Raya
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The charity is trying to provide for all our needs in the new space. I loved our old building. It was larger and had a big garden with trees and flowers. They would take us out every day to sit in the garden. I also miss my friends ‘Ula and Suha who were killed. We lived together for many years and I was used to seeing them every day.
May Hamadah, a resident of a special needs hostel
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We had a plot of land behind the house planted with orange, lemon and olive trees, and a few palm trees. The crops have been our only source income besides a small stipend. Last summer, the Israeli air force bombed our plot. What happened to my land and my trees is still very painful for me. I feel like they took some of my life away and I can no longer do what I loved doing.
Muhammad Abu Halub, pensioner
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Families whose homes were destroyed still living in schools in rough conditions
Khuza'a, January 2015
B’Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah has been busy recording life in Gaza after Operation Protective Edge: “The fighting made it perilous and practically impossible to document events in real-time. Since the fighting ended, B’Tselem’s other field researchers in the Gaza Strip and I have been following up on reports throughout Gaza, one neighborhood at a time, one house at a time. We photograph formerly vibrant, densely populated neighborhoods that have been reduced to rubble. We meet people living amidst the ruins.”
Life amidst the ruins - photo blog
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In 2012 we built a house. We were thrilled to have our own home. It was bombed, and the Israeli forces uprooted the olive and lemon trees that were our source of income. Now we live at the school, in rough conditions.
Shuruq Abu Tu’eymah
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I met 'Alaa when were in sixth grade. We were really good friends. We spent most of our time together, in class, or in soccer practice. I heard that 'Alaa was killed in the bombing of the hospital and I headed out there. I wasn't afraid and I didn't care about the shelling. My thoughts were focused on 'Alaa. On most days, on my way to class, I got to the cemetery and visit 'Alaa's grave for a few minutes.
Mu’taz al-‘Azayzeh, 15
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Al-Qara family lives in tent near ruins of their Khuza’a home
I now live in a tent by the ruins of our home. The clothes I have on are the only ones I have. I used to share a room with my brother and have lots of clothing and toys. But that’s not what makes me sad. I’m sad because my father's dead. If he were here, it would make up for everything. And he would buy us clothes and a new house.
Shadi Barakeh, 12
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