44. Destroyed home and van
Khuza’a, Gaza Strip
Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag paper
30 x 42 cm
5/5 edition (+ AP)
I spent an evening in Khuza'a near Khan Younis in January 2015. The intensity of suffering faced by the inhabitants of this town over the last decade is great. The community have the misfortune to living within a few hundred metres from the border zone with Israel. As a result, they have born the brunt of ground assaults over successive military campaigns on the Gaza Strip.
During the 2008-09 'Operation Cast Lead' attacks, The Observer reported that during a 12 hour attack on Khuza'a, Israeli soldiers attempted to bulldoze houses with inhabitants inside and fired upon ambulances and civilians carrying white flags (1). However, the violence of July-August 2014 was by far the most intense experienced so far. Nearly all of the town's 500+ houses were destroyed during the ground component of 'Operation Protective Edge'. During my time there, I only saw 2 or 3 standing dwellings in the town that weren't temporary refugee tents. Residents spoke of locals beings used as human shields for IDF troops and armoured vehicles as well as artillery shelling targeted to prevent inhabitants from leaving the combat zone despite offers of safe passage.
I spent a substantial part of the evening with local men from the town discussing their experiences while smoking shisha next to rubble of one of their homes. This building had been a home for more than just one family. It had been the meeting place for the community before its destruction. Men would come here to smoke, play games, eat food and chat. As a testament to the resilience of the people of Khuza'a, Gaza and Palestine, locals have built a shed from scrap corrugated metal and cinder block as a new meeting place on the same site.