“After More Than 40 Days, I Still Return Home Despite its Destruction”

In Gaza, a resilient spirit prevails as an elderly resident, sitting amidst the rubble of his house for the fourth time, defiantly declares, “They destroyed it, and we rebuild. This is the fourth time they have demolished my house, but I remain here.” These sentiments were captured by freelance photographer Mariam Riyad Abu Dagga and shared on the Instagram account @mariam_abu_dagga last Friday.

Simultaneously, the Palestinian News Agency (Wafa) reports that during a four-day humanitarian ceasefire between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, thousands of residents in northern Gaza, compelled to abandon their homes, courageously returned to their hometowns.

Despite the lack of any explicit agreement for Gaza residents to return to their land in the aftermath of the 48-day conflict, residents took the bold step of returning. Walking resolutely, carrying children and belongings, they hitched rides on trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and even donkey carts and ‘tuk-tuks,’ unsure whether their homes still stood or had been reduced to rubble.

“The situation is indeed difficult. We lived in fear for these past few days. But now we are a little relieved. I am heading to my residence to assess the condition of the house due to the bombing. Thank God, we are still alive and well,” said Husin Aby Elyan, 47, who sought refuge with his wife and a daughter in a school building in west Khan Yunis, southern Gaza.

Another Gaza resident, Abu Ali Abu Dan, expressed, “I know my house has been destroyed, but I still return after more than 40 days. In the south (of Gaza), it is difficult for us to continue life. No food, no water. No gas and electricity. We sleep on the ground. At least with this ceasefire, we are a bit happy. But where do my family and I go after the house is destroyed? Life is still difficult. But that doesn’t stop us from coming back. If there are no walls, we will rebuild. Cardboard, wood… with anything,” said the father of nine children.

Musa Al-Bahabsa, 50, from eastern Gaza, chose to stay in the south due to concerns for his family’s safety. “I really hoped to return home, but I couldn’t because Israeli armored vehicles shot at the crowd trying to return to the north,” he said.

In connection with this matter, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that seven Gaza residents were injured by Israeli forces’ gunfire while traveling back to the north on Friday.

Approximately 1.7 million Gaza residents were estimated to have been forced to move to the south, losing their homes due to continuous Israeli bombardment since October 7. The humanitarian ceasefire on Friday paved the way for the distribution of humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing with the coordination of Egypt.

Source: Harian Metro