A video confirmed Ahmad al-Gharbawi’s fears: his apartment has been destroyed.
Al-Gharbawi watched the video in Rafah, southern Gaza, where he has moved. Like so many others, he has been sheltering in a school run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).
The video showed what remains of his old home in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. It was taken by a friend who remained in that area despite Israeli orders to leave.
His friend’s mother is elderly and unwell.
“I found my home burned and the windows smashed,” al-Gharbawi said. “But if there is ever a permanent truce, I want to go back to my home and stay in it. Even if it has no windows or doors.”
Al-Gharbawi had inherited the apartment from his father, who died seven years ago. A number of his friends and neighbors have been killed in Israel’s latest war against Gaza.
The video was taken during the truce which has now ended.
It was among countless recordings of devastation made in that period.
Ahmad Krizem viewed images of his destroyed home on a Facebook page intended for people who have lived in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp and nearby areas.
“I saw in a video that my house was destroyed,” Krizem said. “That broke my heart. It had taken me nine years to save enough money for my house.”
Taha al-Said, 62, is from al-Karama, a neighborhood of Gaza City. He is now taking shelter at an UNRWA school in Rafah.
It was not until the recent truce period that he could ascertain what exactly had happened to his home.
It was badly damaged on 23 November – just one day before the truce came into effect.
About 30 members of his extended family lived alongside him. He had built apartments in the same building for two of his sons, both university students.
“Building my house was a big effort,” he said. “One of the last people displaced from our area told me that the house was fine a few days before the truce. Then the Israeli army destroyed the day before the truce.”
Now that Israel has resumed bombarding Gaza, more destruction looks inevitable.
Amjad Ayman Yaghi is a journalist based in Gaza.