News / Middle East

Displaced Gazans Fear Returning Home Despite Israeli Assurances

Displaced Gazans Fear Returning Home Despite Israeli Assurancesi
Scott Bobb
August 03, 2014 9:59 PM
The Israeli military has told residents of several neighborhoods in Gaza that they may return home, seeming to indicate that the operation to destroy infiltration tunnels has ended in these parts of the enclave. However, most Gazans say they do not believe they will be safe. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.
Scott Bobb

The Israeli military has told residents of several neighborhoods in Gaza that they may return home, seeming to indicate that the operation to destroy infiltration tunnels has ended in these parts of the enclave. However, most Gazans say they do not believe they will be safe.
Late morning in Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza City. Although it is a work day, this is a ghost town. Most residents fled during the Israeli military incursion here.
The purpose of the incursion was to eliminate tunnels and rocket sites of the Hamas group that controls Gaza.

Residents were warned ahead-of-time to leave the area for their safety. But some chose to stay. Hassan Gabayen was one of them.
“We are staying in our homes for our land and our God. We’re trying to protect our people here. We’re not going to leave. We will only leave as martyrs,” says Gabayen.
He says some families came back after the Israeli announcement.  But most just took a few belongings and left again.
Many of them took refuge at facilities like a U.N.-run school in Gaza City. It is now a village of 2,100 inhabitants. Officials say no one is leaving. Eman al-Kahlot, who stays here with her extended family of 18, explains why.
“We don’t believe in what Israel says because yesterday (Saturday) a family from here went back. They bombarded and the family died. So the Israelis say one thing and do something else,” says al-Kahlot.
Residents say the facilities are strained but there is enough help to survive. Yet, even here they are not safe. Several U.N. schools have been hit recently. Dozens of people were killed.
“For me there is no future. I hope in the future our children will have their rights, have their freedom as in other countries. Because the life we have here is nothing,” says al-Kahlot.
Back in Beit Lahiya, Mahmoud al-Atar expresses a similar despair.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re staying here. Maybe we’ll die. I don’t know, but it will be an honor. We’re not going to a U.N. school because people are dying there, too. We prefer to die in our homes.”
Some residents no longer have homes to return to. For the others, any cease-fire will only announce more hard times, of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

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Comment Sorting
by: Faiyaz Ahmed S M from: india
August 03, 2014 10:38 PM
Gazans are right in disbelieving Israel's assurances for returning home. The recent calls made by the Chief Rabbi of New York and a senior minister of Israel's cabinet -besides many columnists and political minions- that were not condemned by the Israel PM or U S President- that genocide is an option for ensuring "longterm quiet" is a pointer towards what is in store for the gazans whether they return to their homes or not. President Obama condemned the capture of a soldier which was proved to be untrue but he failed to condemn the irresponsible statements made by prominent Jews. Pray, why, Mr. President?
In Response

by: Lou from: Atlanta
August 04, 2014 8:35 AM
But Hamas (and Gazans) need to come to the realization that Israel has the capability of destroying each and every one of them AND turn the entire Gaza strip into a large piece of glass. So for Hamas to provoke Israel makes no sense to me.

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