Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Gaza residents return home to find heavy damage

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — With safe passage promised by a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, residents of the areas hardest hit by fighting in Gaza returned to their homes Saturday. They could not believe what they saw.

Many roads were barely passable, and almost silent. Women did not wail. Men looked stunned. Their neighborhoods were reduced to ugly piles of gray dust, shattered cement block and twisted rebar.

Huge bomb craters marked the spot where, on Friday, four-story apartment blocks had stood. On some streets, it seemed as if every house was riddled with bullet holes or shrapnel spray, charred by flames, or leveled.

The scale of the damage from Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire was the worst seen in the 19 days since Israel launched its offensive. Much of the damage witnessed Saturday had occurred in the past 24 to 48 hours as diplomats debated the terms of a possible truce.

"It looks like an earthquake," said Rafet Sukar at the front door of his home on the main street in Shijaiyah, a residential district east of central Gaza City. The back half of his house was gone. "It was a miracle we got out of here alive," said Rami Sukar, his brother.

The tops of mosque minarets — perhaps sources of sniper fire — were blasted away. Schools and hospitals were peppered with shrapnel from missiles and shells that struck within their perimeters.

Water pump stations were blown up, electrical lines toppled onto the streets, the main roads blocked by deep impact craters.

At the front lines, within sight of the concrete wall that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel, fresh trails from Israeli tanks and combat bulldozers snaked through backyard gardens and rolled over greenhouses. Fires still smoldered as the first reporters and residents reached the towns on the front.

There was no looting, nor any police on the streets. Ambulances struggled to reach the dead. Search crews followed bulldozers that cleared a path. There were reports of wounded still trapped in buildings. The Gaza Health Ministry said its crews had recovered at least 85 bodies Saturday.

According to the ministry, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the course of the 19-day campaign.

It was obvious the recovery would take time. In some places, the odor of bodies was so strong that passers-by gagged. "It will take more than 12 hours to dig them out," said Yussif Abid al-Hamid, an emergency medical technician wearing latex gloves and trying to get his mask back over his nose. "We need heavy equipment here. We need earth movers. We can't dig with our bare hands."

There were many dead animals, too. Donkeys, horses and cows were scattered at the edges of fields and in marketplaces. The farm towns at the edges of Gaza are where the shepherds live, and in the shelling, they were forced to abandon their flocks. Down one lane, two men carried a cage filled with songbirds. Some who came home to gather up belongings left with a few cans of fruit or a half-gallon of cooking oil.

Local reporters and Gaza residents said the scale of destruction in the areas targeted exceeded damage done in the wars of 2009 and 2012.

Neighborhoods visited by reporters just a day earlier were transformed. Mohammad Shawesh returned to his home in Beit Hanoun on Saturday morning, thinking there might be some minor damage. It was a wreck.

Comments
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

TAMPA — Nick Genovese was anxious.The 21-year-old from Land O’Lakes had come to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena hoping to see the Tampa Bay Lightning triumph over the Washington Capitals in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference winner-take-all Game...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 2 hours ago