Six Years after the War, Palestinians Still Haunted by Housing Crisis

As many as 1,500 housing units destroyed by Israeli attacks in 2014 have yet to be rebuilt. With the blockade and the Coronavirus pandemic that has worsened the economic situation in Gaza, the suffering experienced by war survivors in Gaza has become unending and bitter.

Palestinian little girls play in the ruins of a house that was destroyed in an Israeli attack in the summer of 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib / ApaImages)

ACTNews, GAZA STRIP - Since the Israeli attack in 2014, hundreds of Palestinians have lost their homes. According to UNRWA as of August 11, 2014, the number of houses destroyed was 70 percent higher than the destruction caused by Israeli attacks in 2008-2009. Still, according to UNRWA, as many as 70% of the residents affected by the attack were refugees.

Saber Abu Nahl was one of the residents who lost his home in Israeli attacks more than six years ago. Until now, he is still frequently moving from one house to another after his house in the Al-Nada area was destroyed in 2014.

For Abu Nahl who works as a taxi driver, the monthly rent of USD 117 per month is very burdensome. "I dreamed day and night to go back home," Abu Nahl told Arab News.

Currently, Abu Nahl lives in a modest rental house in the Jabalia refugee camp area with seven other family members. His income is often insufficient even to meet their daily needs.

“Many days I return to my children with not enough to feed them, so how do I manage their affairs and pay the rent in light of a devastating economic situation?” he said.

The war has also brought bad memories for Navin Barakat, a widow who got a new apartment in early 2020.

In the 2014 attack, her apartment in the Al-Nada area was destroyed. Barakat, her husband Rami, and their children took refuge in a school which, at that time, served as a shelter. Unfortunately, an Israeli artillery shell hit the school. Barakat's husband died and the children were injured.

“I lost my husband at the age of 37. I want to live in peace and raise my children.” she said.

The war launched by Israel against Gaza, which lasted from July 8 till August 26, 2014, destroyed 12,000 housing units and partially destroyed 160,000, of which 6,600 were uninhabitable, according to the Ministry of Works and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Unfortunately, of the many houses that were destroyed, there are still around 1,500 housing units that have not been rebuilt, as told by a Palestinian MP Jamal Khudari who is also the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege.

In an official statement to the media on Friday (10/7/2020), Khudari said that the suffering of Gazans who lost their homes due to the Israeli attack in 2014 was very “complex” because, apart from losing their homes, they also deal with the consequences of the blockade imposed upon Gaza that has lasted for years.

"Although there are no more attacks from Israel, the bad effects are still ongoing," said Khudari. He added that the Coronavirus outbreak and the ongoing blockade have perpetuated the suffering of the Gazans and aggravated their tragedy.

House waqf for Palestine

As an effort to build Palestinian life, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) will build housing for Palestinians through the House Waqf program for Palestine. Flats for Palestinians are planned to be built on 5,000 m2 land in the Ezbat Abd Rabo area in North Jabaliya, Gaza Strip.

"One of the advantages of this location is that it is located between three regions, namely Beit Hanoun, Jabalia, and Tuffah," explained ACT's partner in Gaza.

Insha Allah, on this land, ACT will build a comfortable residential complex for Palestinians to help fulfill their basic needs while empowering local construction workers. []