Palestinian family lives on top of the rubble of a demolished house in Gaza

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By Mahmoud Essa

BEIT LAHIA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) – The al-Kahloot family lives on memories in Gaza after they were displaced by Israeli bombing and then returned to live in a large tent pitched atop the rubble of their home.

“We stay in this tent because this is our place and home. It is our home, we cannot leave it, it has our dreams and memories,” said Umm Nael al-Kahloot, whose son was previously killed in the war between Hamas and Israel.

“We had good memories of this house, I am trying to heal our pain and find a place to stay. We can’t stay away from our house, even if there are heavy (Israeli) strikes, we would leave for a while. day or two, we would be back in our place.

Many Palestinian families are sharing their fate as Israeli airstrikes and heavy shelling have killed tens of thousands of people and left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins since Hamas carried out a cross-border attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages.

Many homes, such as those of al-Kahloots, have been pulverized, displacing families. Some of them have returned in the hope that at least some of their homes would have survived airstrikes and shelling.

The al-Kahloots’ home, part of a vast stretch of concrete rubble in the densely built-up city of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, consisted of five floors, all of which collapsed. But the family remains attached to their home and clings to the destruction.

“Despite all these struggles we are going through and the tragedies we have witnessed, we have been wandering and could not live anywhere else but here,” said Ismail al-Kahloot, Umm Nael’s husband.

‘Five families eat, sleep and stay in this tent you see here.’

Umm Nael hangs clothes to dry on a rope and waters her plants. She sorts food pots and puts them on an open fire.

“Why all this suffering? What have we done wrong to deserve all this? We are helpless, we have no hand in this war,” she said.

“We were not able to save anything from the house, from the work (studio) or from the furniture, everything went under the rubble. These are old things. I clean them up as much as possible.”

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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