Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Pendygraft Photo Essay

Returning to ruin in Gaza

A family’s broken home: Mohammed Khadar, 48, (far right) and his family have returned to the rubble of their home. Clockwise, from Khadar, are three daughters (2-year-old Mona, 8-year-old Heba and 10-year-old Reham), his brother Khadar Khadar and his brother’s wife, Bothina; and his 39-year-old wife, Soad, holding their 1-year-old daughter Khlod.

A family’s broken home: Mohammed Khadar, 48, (far right) and his family have returned to the rubble of their home. Clockwise, from Khadar, are three daughters (2-year-old Mona, 8-year-old Heba and 10-year-old Reham), his brother Khadar Khadar and his brother’s wife, Bothina; and his 39-year-old wife, Soad, holding their 1-year-old daughter Khlod.

Mohammed Khadar and his family live in what used to be a professional, middleclass neighborhood called Abed Rabbo, a suburb of Gaza City. During the height of the Israeli incursion in January, a tank unit called out to residents by bullhorn and ordered them to evacuate. They walked together down the road from their home, waving white headscarves and a white T-shirt tied to a broom handle. “On both sides of the road, the Israeli soldiers were shooting into the air. It was terrifying for the children. Everyone was crying,” says his 38-year-old brother Khadar Khadar. “We felt scared for our lives.” Days later they were allowed back into their neighborhood. Their house and the homes of their neighbors were leveled. They moved back in anyway. “This is our home, there’s nowhere else to go. We will go on living here, and are willing to die here,” says Khadar Khadar. The family’s Gaza roots date to 1956. They owned a chicken farm, which was destroyed in the offensive, an Israeli response to Hamas missile attacks. “We are not terrorists,” says Mohammed Khadar, who says he has no affiliation with Hamas or Fatah. “Do not treat us as terrorists. As you have kids, we have kids. As you love yours, we love ours. Our kids want to live in peace. And so do we.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in traveling to the Mideast last week, is hoping that people truly believe that — and can find a way.


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]

As the United States re-engages in the thorny Mideast peace process, what's it like in Gaza and the West Bank for some regular folks at the heart of the "Palestinian problem"?

Returning to ruin in Gaza 03/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 9, 2009 1:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: A proud moment for civic involvement in Hillsborough County

    Editorials

    It took private citizens less than 24 hours to do what their elected leaders in Hillsborough County could not for the past three months: Find the moral fortitude and the money to move a century-old Confederate war memorial from outside the county courthouse. Thursday's achievement was a lesson in leadership to county …

    The Hillsborough County Commission dithered for three months over moving the Memoria in Aeterna monument from the old county courthouse.
  2. Fort Myers woman arrested for doing cocaine off iPhone in parent pick-up line

    Bizarre News

    A Fort Myers woman was arrested Tuesday after police saw her snorting cocaine off her iPhone while in the parent pick-up line at a Lee County middle school.

    Christina Hester, 39, faces two different drug-related charges, according to police records. [Lee County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  4. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law

    Editorials

    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  5. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system

    Editorials

    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.