Unprecedented Destruction: Survivors of Gaza Speak to the World – SPECIAL REPORT

Civil defense workers struggle to save civilians trapped under rubble. (Photo: The Palestine Chronicle)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

The survivors of Gaza keenly understand Israel’s objective – to redraw the map of Gaza. They also have a collective and complete resolve to stand firm forever in their homeland. 

Since the beginning of the Israeli military aggression on October 7, the residents of the Gaza Strip have witnessed changes in the brutal military tactics employed by the Israeli occupation forces. While many felt like the savagery employed in past incursions couldn’t be topped, Israel has proved everyone wrong. 

In an interview with The Palestine Chronicle, Israeli Affairs expert Ayman Shama said that, since the first day, Israel has been trying to project a victorious image, following the shocking defeat to the Palestinian Resistance, 

“The images were impressive,” Shama said. “The Palestinian Resistance managed to infiltrate all settlements in the Gaza Envelope and take control of all military bases along the fence”.

According to Shama, Israel is now attempting to mask that reality by committing large-scale massacres in Gaza.

“Israel further intensified its attacks following the news of the release of two Israeli women for humanitarian reasons on October 23,” Shama noted, saying that this was a strategy to divert from a scene that could project a positive image of the Palestinian Resistance. 

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Unprecedented Destruction

The destruction endured in the coastal enclave is unprecedented. The Palestine Chronicle spoke with several residents of the besieged Strip to understand how this attack has been different, and how it has changed their lives forever. 

Dr. Younis Eid lives in the Bureij refugee camp. He told us that the landscape of the area has completely changed. 

“My neighborhood has been completely destroyed,” he said. Eid explained that the entire block where his home was situated has been razed. “They obliterated all the houses entirely. The streets and roads no longer exist, and the buildings are no longer as they were. The map of my area, once full of homes, lively neighborhoods, and clear streets, has turned into rubble”.

Dr. Eid continued, “The sad and heartbreaking part of the matter is that dozens of victims, mostly children, and women, have been under the rubble of destroyed houses for several days, waiting for equipment to arrive to extract them.

“The central governorate of the Gaza Strip has about two large machines for removing rubble, and they move from one destroyed house to another, depending on the house most recently hit by Israeli shelling.”

Bilal Abu Kamil is from the city of Al-Zahraa in the central Gaza Strip. He spoke to The Palestine Chronicle about the Israeli bombardment and the destruction of more than 25 residential buildings, each housing around 20 families. He said, “I had a home in Al-Zahraa city, but the Israeli occupation destroyed everything, altering the city’s map entirely. 

Al-Zahraa is no longer as it used to be; the occupation changed all its landmarks. Its residents were forced to leave, and there are no longer homes for people to live in or streets to walk. It has become a dark, sad, and miserable place.”  

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‘Living Among the Dead’

The Al-Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City, in particular, has faced a significant amount of Israeli airstrikes. 

Sa’id Al-Suweirki commented on the bombing of Al-Shejaiya in an interview with The Palestine Chronicle, saying, “I used to live with my family and neighbors in a small house near the graveyard. I lived alongside the dead in their graves, and my neighbors in their homes. Today, due to the Israeli airstrikes, the Al-Shejaiya neighborhood has been devastated. I now live alongside the dead in the graves and my dead neighbors who have all been killed.”  

Al-Suweirki continued, “The road leading to my home has totally changed. I can no longer reach my home through a single street as before. I have been forced to take several routes due to the extensive bombing of residential areas in Al-Shejaiya and the immense destruction caused by the occupation throughout the neighborhood. Al-Shejaiya is home to tens of thousands of people.”

Al-Suweirki emphasized, “I am a simple Palestinian citizen, not well-educated, and my financial situation is poor. However, I am fully aware of the plan that the occupation has been implementing from day one.”

“They aim to drive Gaza’s population towards Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and destroy all of our homes. This is their way of trying to reoccupy Gaza and displace its people. Nevertheless, we left our homes after the airstrikes and sought refuge in UNRWA schools. We will never leave Gaza.”

The city of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip has faced intense Israeli bombardment. According to the Ministry of Interior, approximately 70% of the city’s homes and roads have been destroyed.

Mohammed Taqtuq, a resident of Beit Hanoun, told The Palestine Chronicle, “All the houses of my family in the city were destroyed. The destruction did not only target my neighborhood but most of the smaller neighborhoods in the city. Wherever you go in the city, you find nothing but destruction.”

“The map of Beit Hanoun has entirely changed, and the city has been turned into a massive pile of rubble.”

19 days of Israeli aggression has produced more than 6,500 killed and over 17,000 wounded, mostly children and women, with over 1,500 people missing under the rubble of houses.

The survivors of Gaza keenly understand Israel’s objective – to redraw the map of Gaza. They also have a collective and complete resolve to stand firm forever in their homeland. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a contributor for The Palestine Chronicle from the Gaza Strip. His email is abdallahaljamal1987@gmail.com

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