Mon. May 29th, 2023

Unable to believe what the unknown caller was saying, Kamal Nabhan screamed as he threw the phone into the hands of his cousin.

Gaza: Dozens of families left homeless by Israeli air strikes

The guys in the Jabalia refugee camp were just getting ready to go for afternoon prayers. But with a warning voice from above, the regular rhythms of existence were about to give way to terrible devastation.

Ataf, Kamal's cousin, contacted his kin.

Ataf recalls, "I snatched the phone from him and spoke to the person on the line. You have five minutes to leave the house, he claimed to be from Israeli intelligence.

They started to run away, telling the Israeli caller he must be wrong because the building "was full" with handicapped people.'No, quickly vacate the home,' [the intelligence officer] responded,'" Ataf claims.

The strongest Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in nine months were entering their fifth day. At least six key members of Islamic Jihad, the second-most potent insurgent group in the Palestinian territories, were slain during the so-called targeted assassination campaign.

However, 10 civilians were also slain in the strikes on the first night alone, including the wives and kids of some of the soldiers who were attacked while they slept. Tens of people were forced to seek refuge in bomb shelters as a result of the group's rounds of rocket assaults on Israeli cities in retaliation.

Israel declared it was responding following many rounds of tens of thousands were forced to seek shelter in bomb shelters as a result of rocket assaults on Israeli cities.

Israel claimed to have acted in response to repeated rocket attacks by Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attacks on Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied east Jerusalem and the recent passing of hunger striker Khader Adnan in an Israeli jail.

33 Palestinians in Gaza and an Israeli and a Palestinian were killed in clashes last week. According to the UN, it caused the displacement of more than 1,200 Palestinians.

Israel carried out its threat at the residence of the Nabhan family. The block was destroyed by a solitary missile.

explosion destroyed residential places

Israel bombed three other residential structures late on Saturday just before a cease-fire agreement was reached, ordering people to leave the buildings before doing so. These strikes, which knock down entire residential buildings, are a tried and true strategy in its assaults on Gaza.

Israel claims that the structures it destroyed were "command and control centers" for Islamic Jihad's missile launches. It claimed that the purpose of its warning sounds was to shield nearby residents from harm.

Local accounts assert that the structure was occupied by a militant but not that it served as an operational base. Human rights organizations denounce such attacks that completely demolish residential buildings as being against international law. An Israeli soldier was captured on camera appealing with another neighbor who had received a warning call to restrict any attack "to the apartment of the guilty."

The explosion destroyed the Nabhan family's house.

The Jabalia structure has fallen into its own foundations. The entirety of a stairway that served as the escape route for numerous families is horizontal and protrudes into a part of shattered wall. The sole source of shade for the previous occupants is the roof's remnants, which are perched a few meters above the ground. All eight families and approximately 50 individuals were rescued by neighbors

According to support groups, there were five persons within the building who had impairments, including muscular dystrophy. They note that several had their wheelchairs, specially adapted beds, and medications damaged in the airstrike.

In order to assist the families, Jamal al-Rozzi, executive director of the Gaza-based Society for Rehabilitation, said his organization would give them food and medical equipment.

"I feel angry and I feel pain because this should not happen, at least not for the civilians, especially not disabled people," he claims.

Another of Kamal Nabhan's relatives is also hiding among the debris. Rahma Nabhan and her husband Yasser are cuddling their infant daughter Jori while sitting beneath a slab of broken roof material.

"My sisters-in-law are disabled; they were not even able to cover their heads [when they were rescued], and their wheelchairs were buried under the house," claims Rahma.

"Everyone witnessed the handicapped individuals running away. Why did the home have to be demolished, they questioned. Have these persons with disabilities shot rockets? We are unrelated to what is happening, she asserts.

Rahma and family are now sleeping outside

Rahma leads me through the ruins while holding onto Jori as she guides me through the debris.

She lived in a top-floor apartment. Only cardboard signs with the names of each previous homeowner that have been hoisted above the concrete remnants exist at this time.

"We are not going anywhere, we will stay in the sun, sleep in the sun, we are not leaving the house," says Rahma.

"We call on the international organisations and [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] to stand with us and rebuild this house because we have no place to go," she says.

The ceasefire reached on Saturday night, mediated by Egypt, has largely held. But tensions remain extremely high, after months of spiralling violence in the occupied West Bank which has spilt over into Gaza on three major occasions since an all-out war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has gained political confidence as a result of last week's strikes. They still retain the ability to do so despite the truce, since they might have easily started a far larger conflict. But in the face of unprecedented internal turmoil and mounting pressure from religious-ultranationalist radicals in his coalition, he has utilized the conflict to enhance his image for security.

Islamic Jihad has taken advantage of the tension to highlight its appeal as the current leader of armed resistance against Israel despite its losses, while Hamas, the main militant organization in Gaza, has refrained from participating in military action.

As part of a "unified" stance by Palestinian groups, it openly supported the rocket firing but successfully exercised self-control to stop the exchange of fire. In addition, it must provide services for the people of Gaza while they are subject to an oppressive Israeli-Egyptian embargo. A more serious conflict might further sway public opinion against it.

Since 2021, the Israeli government has let thousands of employees to enter Israel, improving the economy of Gaza and increasing Hamas's tax receipts. The organization has cautioned against the yearly plans for an ultranationalist Israeli flag march through Muslim neighborhoods of occupied east Jerusalem on Thursday, which they say would only fuel tensions.

Israel and the West have designated Islamic Jihad and Hamas as terrorist organizations.

Many Palestinians in this region, however, feel abandoned by the international world since it continues to discuss a two-state solution for the region's political future, which is categorically rejected by both Israel's nationalist government and the armed Palestinian factions.

Neighbors and representatives of other Gaza-based organizations show up to the Nabhans' home for a meeting in support of the inhabitants. The Nakba, when 700,000 people fled or were driven from their homes as a result of the hostilities that followed the founding of Israel, is being commemorated by Palestinians on the same day as they observe its 75th anniversary.

Signs with the phrases "Protect us" and "We call for help" are held up by the homeless individuals.

The Israeli intelligence officer's warning call was answered by Ataf Nabhan, who points at the ruins and tells me his request is straightforward.

"This family needs shelter," he declares. We only request that human rights organizations look after this family.

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