The Bombing Has Stopped, But Pain And Destruction Remain In Gaza City

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originally published: 21 May 2021 | origin:

After 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, a cease-fire went into effect at 2 a.m. local time Friday. Gaza health officials say at least 240 people were killed there by waves of airstrikes from Israel. Twelve people died in Israel from more than 4,000 rockets fired by militants in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

Friday was the first day that foreign journalists were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since the fighting began.

In Gaza City, fully intact buildings stood right next to where others had been flattened. One building looked like a layer cake, with one story stacked on top of the other.

Families walked together in the streets, dressed-up in fancy clothes — holiday clothes for Eid, the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan and started last week. Due to the war, people had not been able to visit friends and relatives during the holiday, so they celebrated it today.

„We’re finally leaving our houses. We’re going out in the streets to celebrate this holiday, to visit our relatives. And we are seeing with our own eyes the pain and the destruction,“ said Tahani,a 30-year-old who was walking with her husband and three daughters. All wore matching pink outfits.

Palestinians assess the damage in their home, hit by Israeli bombardment, in Gaza City on Friday after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

On Al Wahida Street, Israeli airstrikes killed more than 40 people, according to Gaza health officials. A few buildings on the street collapsed, burying families alive. Israel says it was attacking a militant tunnel deep underground and that the buildings‘ foundations collapsed.Article continues after sponsor message

The street is now a wall of rubble where apartments stood. A sofa lay crushed under a large piece of cement.

Who won this battle? Gazans say that they did.

In a video-game shop, a young gamer named Hossam Ashour said that Hamas and Palestinians were defending Jerusalem, its Al-Aqsa Mosque and a neighborhood where Israel was set to evict Palestinians. Still, he said, Gazans don’t deserve all this death and destruction.

Ashraf and four daughters dressed up for Eid holiday, celebrated a week late, in Gaza.Daniel Estrin/NPR

That destruction means a need for major rebuilding.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. For now, Gazans are marking the rubble with signs that carry the name and phone number of the owner, so that they can be contacted when aid arrives.

And there is the present danger of unexploded bombs. Also on Al Wahida Street, workers were removing two large unexploded missiles, under the watch of militants.

The fighting has stopped for now, but dangerous clearance work lies ahead.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin reported from Gaza City. NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported from Washington, D.C.

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