Photostory: Home demolitions in Rafah (part 1 of 2)

The following photo reportage on the destruction of homes in the Block O and Block J neighborhoods of Rafah was made by Canadian photographer Darren Ell in November 2002. Read his 5 December 2002 account, The background music in Rafah on this website. Permission for the use of the photographs can be obtained by contacting the photographer.

1. The Israeli army has destroyed over 350 homes and damaged 500 in the Rafah neighborhoods of occupied Gaza, along the Egyptian border. This work is being done to make way for a gigantic steel wall on which Israel began construction in October 2002. Seen through the demolished home of a Block O resident, an Israeli crane sinks sections of the wall into the earth.

2. Seen from the bedroom window of a Block O resident, an Israeli bulldozer, protected by Israeli tanks, clears land in Block O.

3. A Palestinian grandmother and her family stand in their former home watching the bulldozers work.

4. Grandmother weeping at the loss of her home. Daily, residents of Block O stand helplessly watching their homes be destroyed by armored bulldozers flanked by Israeli tanks. Human rights groups in Palestine and Israel condemn the demolitions as serious violations of humanitarian law. Destruction of property in occupied territories is forbidden under article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

5. Looking west towards Block J and the sea. Hundreds of homes once stood here.

6. Salah al-Din Gate. “The Gate of Death” as it is called by residents of Rafah, is the scene of nightly battles between IDF tanks and Palestinian fighters. The street, its businesses and homes lay in ruins.

7. Interior of a bullet-ridden home near the wall. As of November 2002, the city of Rafah has suffered more death and injury per capita than any city in Palestine during the Al-Aqsa Intifada: 205 dead, 2450 injuries and over 800 life-saving operations.

8. Asmaa’ al-Masri, 31 years of age, mother of 4, was critically wounded by shrapnel to the leg, abdomen and chest from an Israeli attack on her home in Block J on 13 November 2002. Her 2-year-old son, Hamed Asad Hassan al-Masri, was killed by a live bullet to the chest. That evening, Israeli occupation forces began shelling Block J in Rafah refugee camp, forcing the family to flee their home. As they left the house, Hamed was hit by a bullet fired by the occupation forces.