Little is left in Khan Younis

Al-Aqsa University in Khan Younis is one of many areas in Khan Younis to which Israel has caused enormous damage. 

Ruwaida Amer

Khaled Arqoub was shocked when he saw that his home had been flattened.

It and the buildings next door were destroyed after Israeli troops entered Khan Younis city in tanks.

“I have lost everything,” Arquob said.

When Israel began its ground invasion, Arquob left his home for al-Mawasi, an area in southern Gaza. He only came back to Khan Younis after the Israeli forces withdrew a few days ago.

“As I walked into the city, the destruction I saw was enormous,” he said. “Nothing had been left intact.”

His return coincided with Eid al-Fitr. While Eid should be a festive occasion, it has proven to be a harrowing time for the people of Khan Younis and other parts of Gaza.

“The city has become gray and everything colorful has disappeared,” Arquob said.

“It is not a fit place to live in. But we will come back. I will set up a tent on the rubble of my house.”

He noted that the local authorities are already seeking to open the city’s streets and restore the water supply. “We want the city to come back to life,” he added.

“A pile of rubble”

Najla Miqdad could not stop crying when she saw what had happened to her neighborhood.

On the first day of Eid, she made the trip from al-Mawasi, where she had moved, to al-Amal, her home area in Khan Younis.

“I came here to inspect my house,” she said. “But I did not find a house. I did not find anything.”

“What I found was destruction,” she added. “It was as if an earthquake had struck the city.”

Her neighborhood has now changed beyond recognition.

Massive destruction in Khan Younis. 

Ruwaida Amer

“There was a pharmacy and a market next to us,” she said. “Now there is nothing there.”

“I feel a pain in my heart. We worked for many years to build our house and it was destroyed within a matter of minutes.”

She is nonetheless determined to rebuild her life in the same neighborhood. “There is nowhere else to go,” she said.

Salem al-Akhras noticed that the city’s “features began to disappear” when he approached it during Eid this week.

He spoke of a mall named Golden. Although it had just been in business for a couple of years, it was a popular place for shopping ahead of Eid.

“Now it is just a pile of rubble,” he said.

He was particularly taken aback by the city center, where he had worked in a clothing store before the current war. The store – like so much else – has been destroyed.

“How many planes were bombing the area?” he asked. “It looked like it had been hit by a nuclear bomb.”

Ruwaida Amer is a journalist based in Gaza.