Photostory: Thousands of Palestinians still displaced in the Gaza Strip

Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”, took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009. Three weeks of almost uninterrupted Israeli aerial bombardments, artillery shelling from land and sea, and ground operations resulted in the killing of 1,414 people, including 313 children and 116 women, and over 5,000 injured. In addition, Israel’s attack also targeted public and private civilian property and infrastructure throughout Gaza, encompassing residential neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, universities, government ministries, water/sewer lines, electricity generating stations, greenhouses, commercial establishments, infrastructure and roads.

 

By the attack’s end, an estimated 2.6 percent of homes in Gaza were completely destroyed and an additional 20 percent sustained serious damage, forcing 80-90,000 people out of their homes to live in the open air in the middle of winter. Two years later, more than 20,000 Palestinians are still displaced and living in dire conditions.

The majority of those displaced, as with the majority of Palestinians in Gaza more generally, were refugees from the 1948 Nakba and the destruction of their houses represents the second time that these Palestinians have been deprived of their homes in a continuing story of dispossession and displacement.

The Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008/9 rather than representing a change in policy, merely represents an escalation in the targeting of Palestinian homes, especially for those located in the “security buffer zone” near the borders. One of the families visited had lost their home in 2006 as a result of Israeli shelling and four years later are still living in a house made of corrugated iron while they struggle to rebuild their home.

With almost no raw construction materials being allowed into Gaza, those displaced are forced to continue to live in poor conditions. Some displaced persons live with relatives in overcrowded apartments, rent accomodation or live in tents. All are waiting for durable solutions and justice.

  1. Kamel Sweelim – Beit Hanoun, Refugees from 1948
  2. Mona Abu Saleh, Beit Hanoun, Refugees from Demrah
  3. Samira and Silmi Abu Shalouf, Al Zhara in the central Gaza Strip, Refugees from Marsaba.
  4. Ahmad Tawfeeq Abu Hasseh, Bedouin Village, Bedouin refugees from Yibna

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Anne Paq - A French freelance photographer focusing on human rights and refugees and a member of the photography collective Activestills, www.annepaq.com

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