When Israel bombed our neighbors

Israel has repeatedly bombed the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

Many people think that houses are just stones. In reality, they are the fruit of enormous labor.

Countless dreams have been planned inside Gaza’s homes. Parents have mapped out the bright futures they wanted for their children.

Homes represented safety for families. When they get destroyed, families lose their comfort and safety.

No one likes war.

War means destruction and death.

War means painful loss that no one will forget.

In Gaza, we have experienced a series of very painful wars. Gazans are not given enough time to put one war behind them before another one starts.

The current war has been more painful and destructive than all others.

One day recently – in the very early morning – I heard the sound of a missile exploding in our area. The blast was powerful.

It was followed by another missile that did not explode.

We had been awake for the dawn prayer. When we heard the explosion, we immediately asked questions that have become frighteningly common.

Whose house was destroyed?

How many people were martyred?

How many people were injured?

We began to hear the screams of neighbors. We could hear ambulances approaching.

Then we learned that our neighbors, the Abu Akar family, had been attacked.

Twenty children were inside it at the time, along with a number of adults.

I heard the voices of women, screaming and crying.

I started crying myself. I was worried about the children and sad about everything that has happened in this war.

The great sadness of a strong woman

We talked about the Abu Akar family.

Saadia Abu Akar, 60, is a great woman.

She lost her home in an area west of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, in 2003.

Israel bulldozed the area.

She then moved to an area east of Khan Younis.

This woman dreamed of having a house and that her children would get married and each one of them would have a family.

She worked hard to maintain her home and build each of her children an apartment so that they could live in it with their own family.

She even opened a small printing press in the basement so that her children would have work.

This woman was very strong for the sake of her nine children. She had eight sons and one daughter.

Twenty years after she had been displaced in 2003, she was still trying hard to preserve her home.

Now Israel had destroyed it within a few seconds.

A missile had exploded, bringing the building to the ground.

Saadia was injured in the head but she did not lose consciousness.

Everyone asked her to go to the hospital but she refused. She wanted to check on her family.

It soon emerged that one of her daughters-in-law and one of her grandchildren had been killed.

Saeed, one of her sons, was seriously injured.

The houses next to the Abu Akar family were severely damaged. Everyone thought about how things could have been even worse if the second missile had exploded.

Saadia sat in front of her house, looking at it with great sadness. It was no longer fit to live in.

Everything was destroyed.

Saadia’s tears were flowing. She could not believe what had happened.

Kamel Abu Akar, 65, could not stop crying either. He had been at the mosque and came back to find that his family was under the rubble.

All the neighbors tried to console him, to give him a little strength. But there was nothing in this horrible situation that could give him any hope.

Doctors tried to save Saeed. But three days later, he died from his injuries.

Saeed was 25. He had worked as a barber, then he opened a business selling meat and frozen goods.

He had dreamed of traveling. Now Israel has taken his life.

Nothing is built easily in Gaza. Any endeavor takes time, money and energy.

Beautiful places are not merely stones.

Ruwaida Amer is a journalist based in Gaza.