For the second time, Palestinian journalist Alaa Shamali and his family taste the bitterness of homelessness, as a result of an Israeli airstrike that destroyed the apartment building in which they had moved after the destruction of their home in the Shujaiya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, during the 2014 war.
Alaa, who works for the local newspaper ‘Palestine’ in Gaza told Aljazeera Net, “The occupation planes are chasing us and assassinating even our dreams of a safe life inside our homes”.
The occupation did not let Alaa and his family of five children enjoy an apartment whose mortgage he has not yet paid in full. For six years, he has been paying instalments equivalent to 30% of his monthly income in order to own it and live in peace and tranquillity.
Searching for safety
After the complete destruction of his family’s four-storey house in the Shejaiya neighbourhood, adjacent to the security fence, east of Gaza, as a result of air and artillery shelling, 25 people were displaced in Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip in 2014. Alaa wanted to find a place he believed would be ‘safer’ in the city centre.
Alaa moved his family to an apartment in a residential building on Yarmouk Street in Gaza. He was to pay its instalments for eight years. “The instalments of the apartment will end in late 2022. Only about $6000 USD remain from its total price of $65,000,” he noted.
Alaa seemed to be stoic, accepting what God destined for him, but he was only saddened by what happened to his children. He said: “All of Gaza is subject to death and destruction, and in light of this bloody and destructive war, there is no longer a safe place. The occupation does not differentiate between one Palestinian and another”.
Israeli warplanes destroyed the six-storey Anas Bin Malik building, comprising 36 apartments, including Alaa’s apartment.
Israel fires “warning rockets” — often sent from drones — to alert residents that a building is to be targeted.
A reconnaissance plane fired a ‘warning rocket’ as they are known to locals to warn residents sometimes that their building will be blown up in order for them to evacuate it. According to Alaa, airstrikes completely destroyed the building, half an hour after it was targeted by a warning rocket. “The loss is huge. We lost not only money and possessions, but also our memories and dreams,” he noted.
By losing his home, Alaa is one of the journalists who were affected by the aggression on Gaza where Israeli forces destroyed press offices, media headquarters, and Arab and international television networks, most notably the Aljazeera Media Network and the American Associated Press.
The crimes have reached an indescribable level. The damage is immense.
— Moataz Abu Raida_Gaza (@Abuabraa2110198) May 17, 2021
No one knows when construction will occur
On the eighth day of the war, Alaa realises that his suffering may last for years before reconstruction of what was destroyed by the Israeli war machine begins.
Alaa’s large family kept moving from one place to another for three years until their home in the Shejaiya neighbourhood was rebuilt in 2017.
Alaa says that the extent of the destruction is immense, and that when the war ends, the scene will be shocking and tragic due to intense Israeli airstrikes.
These raids caused severe damage to more than 10,000 housing units, of which 800 were completely destroyed, as well as massive damage to the water, electricity and sewage networks.
During its first week, the war pushed about 40,000 people to flee their homes in the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, in search of safety in schools that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) converted into shelters.