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Living in a ruined neighborhood in Gaza

A few days ago, Hillary Clinton, in her first trip to the Middle East as secretary of state, traveled to Egypt, where Palestinian donors raised $5.2 billion for the Palestinian economy and to rebuild the destruction from last month's Israeli incursion into Gaza. The United States has pledged $900 million — $300 million will go directly to Gaza, and $600 million to the Palestinian Authority. To understand where the money for reconstruction will go, look into the eyes of 10-year-old Mahmud Khadar, and scan the wasteland that used to be his middle class neighborhood. Wonder how surreal it must be to live in a landscape that looks as shattered as your world feels.

The Khadar family, and many of their neighbors, just moved back into the concrete remains of where they lived before the war. There is no electricity, no running water. Nothing that gives the homes any advantage over the clean white tents offered to refugees by the UN. Except that a tent feels like a tent, and this new rubble, with its Daliesque patterns and nonsensical angles, feels more than ever like home.


The ruins of Hasan Abed Rabbo’s home. He says the area was “a nice village decorated with trees and beautiful houses, buildings and factories. Most of the people who live here are cultured: doctors, teachers and intellectuals.”
The ruins of Hasan Abed Rabbo’s home. He says the area was “a nice village decorated with trees and beautiful houses, buildings and factories. Most of the people who live here are cultured: doctors, teachers and intellectuals.”

A YOUNG BOY'S EYES:

As part of her first trip to the Middle East as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton traveled to Egypt last week, where donors raised $5.2 billion for the Palestinian economy and to rebuild the destruction from the Israeli incursion into Gaza. The United States has pledged $900 million in all; $300 million will go for the reconstruction of Gaza, which will be funneled through Western nongovernmental agencies to ensure it is not used by Hamas. The other $600 million will flow to the Palestinian Authority. To understand the point of the rebuilding fund, look into the eyes of 10-year-old Mahmud Khadar, standing near the remains of his home in Abed Rabbo. He’s still plagued by nightmares. In the three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza, more than 1,300 people were killed and more than 5,400 wounded, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The Abed Rabbo neighborhood was especially hard hit. Many neighbors have moved back into the concrete remains of where they lived before the bombing. There is no electricity, no running water. Nothing that gives the homes any advantage over the clean white tents offered to refugees by the United Nations. Except that a tent feels like a tent, and this new rubble, with its Dali-esque patterns and nonsensical angles, still feels like home.

[JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

PICKING UP THE PIECES:

Children salvage designer tile from the home of Yossef Abu Eida. He had worked as a teacher in the United Arab Emirates after earning a degree from Toledo University in Ohio and later moved to Gaza, where he owned a chicken farm like the Khadars. His was destroyed, too. "I do not have a future," he says. "I have 12 sons. I do not know how to feed them."

[JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

ANY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?

Ahmed Jonaid, right front, sits with family and neighbors in front of his home. Before the second intifada, he had worked inside Israel as a builder, but Israel closed the borders to Palestinian workers so he had to seek work in Gaza. Why did Israelis level the neighborhood? "I think the Israelis attacked our area because it is a border area with the Israeli lands and they try to secure themselves," said Hasan Abed Rabbo, whose home is shown above. Echoing other neighbors, he said no rockets were fired from the area. His family has been living in Gaza for several generations. As Secretary of State Clinton visited the Mideast, broad U.S. outlines became clear: Open doors to Syria and isolate Iran; hope to offer cover to Arab states and moderate Palestinians to negotiate with Israel, forcing Hamas to ease its hostility toward the Jewish state. Eventually that could lead to a calm in the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

[JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

Living in a ruined neighborhood in Gaza 03/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2010 11:39am]
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