Israel-Hamas War: Latest Updates – The New York Times

Residents who returned to the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya on Friday expected to see mass destruction but said they were still shocked by the level of destruction they witnessed after three weeks of attacks by Israel enters a crowded urban area.

“The devastation is indescribable,” said Mohammad Awais, who returned with his family to their home in Jabaliya on Friday. “Our minds cannot comprehend what we are seeing.”

He said he and his family walked along devastated roads for nearly an hour in the hot sun and found that no vehicles could move on roads blocked by piles of rubble from houses and buildings. The store was destroyed by the Israeli army.

As they walked, rescue workers passed by, carrying the wounded and the bodies of the dead on stretchers. Some bodies were found in the streets, others were dug up and pulled from the rubble — which had begun to decompose, said Mr. Awais, a social media marketer.

“Even ambulances cannot get through to transport the wounded and martyrs,” he said of the streets of Jabaliya.

The Israeli army said on Friday it had ended its offensive in eastern Jabaliya and withdrew after recovering the bodies of seven hostages, killing hundreds of gunmen and destroying several kilometers of underground tunnel network. ground.

Satellite images taken by Planet Labs in late May show the scale of destruction in an area south of town and near the market.

According to images from April, several buildings were destroyed before Israel’s latest attack on the area. But by the end of May, many structures in those areas appeared to be flattened and almost all vegetation was leveled.

Mr. Awais and his family are among the few residents who still have a place to return to. Their house was only partially damaged. On Friday, they began cleaning up collapsed walls, wood, broken glass and damaged furniture to make their home habitable again. However, the family supermarket, which had to close in December due to the Israeli siege of Gaza, was completely destroyed, he said.

“Rubble is everywhere,” he added.

On May 11, the Israeli military said it had extended it offensive in Jabaliya because Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that led the October 7 attack, is trying to rebuild its infrastructure and operations in the area. At the time, Hamas accused Israel of “escalating its aggression against civilians across Gaza” and vowed to continue fighting.

Israel invaded northern Gaza for the first time after weeks of a fierce aerial assault on the enclave following the October 7 attack. The army has launched multiple deadly attacks on Jabaliya. Having survived attacks in the early months of the war, many in Jabaliya thought they were safe from another Israeli attack.

A Palestinian man rides a donkey pulling a cart past a damaged school in Jabaliya, northern Gaza.Credit…Omar Al-Qattaa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Resting in the rubble in Jabaliya on Friday after Israeli forces withdrew from the area.Credit…Mahmoud Issa/Reuters

“People returned with tears in their eyes,” said Hossam Shbat, a journalist in Gaza. “Everything we saw was rubble, devastation and rubble. And there were more massacres.”

He added, “People have returned to witness what no one could have imagined: the destruction of businesses, infrastructure as well as the shelters that sheltered Thousands of people were displaced.”

Jabaliya is often called the camp because it was established more than 70 years ago by Palestinian refugees expelled or forced to flee their homes in present-day Israel during the establishment of the state. They were never allowed to return to their homes, and Jabaliya grew into a community of refugees and their descendants.

in one videotapes Mr. Shbat recorded on Thursday, showing the ruins of Jabaliya around him. Behind him, in the shell of a four-story building, a fire still smoldered in the rubble.

“We can’t describe it in words,” he said in an interview. “The occupying army deliberately destroyed everything essential to life.”

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