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House demolition story
Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Losing my house means homelessness. My house is life, safety and stability. My house is a homeland, said Hassan Emran Ashor, 52, who was sitting inside a tent, offered by the Red Cross, near his sandwiched house, that was destroyed by the Israeli army during a large-scale military offensive into Zeitoun neighborhood on May, 11, 2004. 釘ut does losing my house means leaving my land? No. As long as my land exists and I survive, I will rebuild my house and if couldn't my sons will build it,・Ashor, who was speaking sometime angrily but most of it bitterly, added.

During the 48-hour military onslaught into Zeintoun neighborhood 8 Palestinians were killed and some 110 were injured. And more than 13 houses were demolished along Salah Eddin Street.

Also, six Israeli soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing that torn their armored personnel carrier apart. Body parts of the Israeli soldiers killed in the attack were seized by Palestinian armed groups, and were used as bargaining chips. With Egypt as a mediator Islamic Jihad handed over the bodies and the Israeli troops pulled out of the neighborhood in return.

Ashor is a father of 14 aged from 3 to 27, and married to two. His house was a 5-story apartment block. The house space was 420 square meters; it contained 9 apartments each apartment 210 square meters. The ground story contained 6 warehouses, and an apartment. He lives in the ground story's apartment with his new wife. His first wife lives with 13 of here sons in one apartment, and her 23-year-old son, Mohammad, lives in a separate apartment with his wife. A forth apartment was occupied by 22-year-old nephew of Hassan Ashor, who studies engineering at the Islamic University and his father and the rest of his family are in Emirates.

This house cost us more than $450 thousand・it was the fruit of 35 years of working outside my country with my 7 brothers. It's not a small amount to gain back unless I work for another 35 years,・he said. Ashor's seven brothers live now in Qatar where some of them work as farmers and other work in private companies. Hassan worked also in Qatar as a supervisor in the maintenance department in the ministry of agriculture but when he returned to Gaza on June, 21, 1994 he worked as a taxi driver.

It was midnight when I heard somebody saying in Arabic: Hassan! Open the door.・I didn't think for a second that he was an Israeli soldier. I headed to the door, but before I opened it I heard people speaking in Hebrew I knew they were Israelis, I headed back but seconds later they blew the door away by explosives,・Ashor said. The Israeli troops arrested Ashor's four sons and nephew. They occupied the house during the whole military operation. They handcuffed and blindfolded them, they beat them up with their legs and guns,・he said. During the first night the area was like a ball of fire, there was continuous heavy-caliber gunfire, with the sound of tanks and military vehicles roaring around, some times the bulldozer was hitting my house,・he added.

The second day at 9 pm, one of the soldiers told me: Get out of the house.・I said why? He said: The house will fall apart.・I said how it will fall apart? he replied: We dynamited the house and we will detonate it.・Then he added: 釘y the time you count from 1 to 10 you should be out of the house.・I told him my conversation with you took the time of counting from 1 to 20, he said: Take what you can take and leave.・I looked my children and said that's all I can take,・ The children were barefooted, the soldier said bring their shoes, when my wife went to the closet to bring the shoes, the soldiers shouted: Stop! Don't open the closet it's planted with explosives,・ Then I moved with my family I thought that wasn't my neighborhood, it was completely defeatured. There were no electricity poles, trees were ripped down, cars were turned upside down sand piles and wholes were everywhere,・

Ashor walked with his family off Salah Eddin Street and stayed few hours with a family in the neighborhood. Almost at midnight we've heard a huge explosion and the house we were in shook as if there was an earthquake, all windows・glass broke even the doors・frames were blown away, I knew they blew up my house,・

After the explosion Ashor left his neighbor's house. The Israelis have already left the area then. He passed by his devastated house but he didn't stop 鄭ll I wanted to know at that moment is where are my sons and nephew,・he said. During the same night Ashor found his sons. Two of them were staying in a house in the neighborhood and the other two were in the hospital. Nephew Amer was arrested.

It was shocked when they arrested him, he's not affiliated to any political party, all he cares about is his study,・Ashor said.

Ashor lived with his family the first ten days after the withdrawal in three tents erected in front of his demolished house. But then officers from Gaza Governorate asked him to rent two apartments and they pay for them. The Governorate also promised to rebuild the house. They promised the building project will start soon,・Ashor said. 哲ow we are living from the 3 thousand dollars we received from the Palestinian Authority, after this money is gone I don't know what will happen,・he said. How I am like a drowning person in the middle of the sea who would catch even a piece of clay to rescue himself,・he added.

Then the bearded man who was taking a deep drag on his cigarette each time he finished even a short sentence, said: Then I was saying may God help you to those who lost their houses, I felt bad for them, but I only felt their real feeling when my house was demolished also. Now if feel that my words to show condolences to those people were nothing, my feelings of sympathy with them were nothing.・

Mahmoud Habboush,
Gaza City- (June, 9, 2004)


The owner of the builing worked for 40 years in the Gulf to have this builidng.. The Israeli APC was bombed in front of this building and it was exploded just before the Israeli Army (IA) withdrew. The residents do not know why it was demolished. [Photo: Naomi Ando]

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