Gaza Marks Year of Devastating War

The people of Gaza Strip marked on Sunday, December 27, the first anniversary of Israel’s deadliest-ever offensive against their besieged coastal enclave, with the scale of destruction still standing as witness to the devastation.

"The goal of these events is that this war and its massacres, which had no precedent, should remain before the eyes of the world," Ihab al-Ghussein, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Agence France Presse (AFP).

"This is so that the leaders of this Zionist war will be judged."

Sirens wailed throughout the Palestinian territory at 11:20 am (0920 GMT), when the first wave of Israeli bombs hit the people of Gaza.

Several demonstrations are planned during the day across the besieged Strip and the Gaza government plans events for 22 days, the length of the war.

On the same day last year, Israeli warplanes launched simultaneous strikes on numerous targets throughout the territory, killing at least 225 people in what was one of the bloodiest single days in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Three-weeks of air, sea and land bombardment left over 1,400 Palestinians, including 330 children, killed.

"I have no one to study with and I have no one to play with," Dalal Abu Aisha, 15, who lost her parents and three siblings in the offensive, told Reuters.

The onslaught wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated Gaza enclave, leaving some 20,000 homes and thousands other buildings in ruins.

A UN fact-finding committee headed by world-renowned judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza war.

No Rebuilding

Despite billions of dollars in aid pledges, large swathes of Gaza remain in ruins.

"I have not seen any progress since the war. Everything is at a standstill," Mohammed Darduna, 25, who lost his house in the war, told Reuters.

"I hope for national reconciliation and the reconstruction of our homes."

Some $5 billion in international aid pledged for reconstructing Gaza 10 months ago remain ink on paper.

Most of the tens of thousands of people who lost their homes now share crowded apartments with relatives or huddle under tents supplied by aid groups.

"The only things getting built in Gaza are desperation and despair," the Human Rights Watch said on the eve of the war anniversary.

Last week 16 rights groups said the international community had "betrayed" the people of Gaza by failing to end the long-running Israeli blockade.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon regretted an increasing "sense of hopelessness" among the civilian population of Gaza.

"(Israel should) end the unacceptable and counterproductive blockade of Gaza, facilitate economic activity and civilian reconstruction, and fully respect and uphold international law."

The UN chief also called for a "fundamentally different" approach to Gaza.

"Today’s anniversary is a reminder of the bitter consequences of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to which there is and can be no military solution.

"The urgent priority of all Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the region, and the international community as a whole must be the achievement of a two State solution."
( and Agencies)

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