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First views of Attattra, northwestern Gaza

Eva Bartlett | In Gaza

On January 18, the first day that Israel stopped most of the bombing all over Gaza (navy shelling continues to this moment), after

No choice but to leave with all belongings

No choice but to leave with all belongings

learning that my friend’s father was alive in eastern Jabaliya, I went on to Attatra, the northwest region, which had been cut off since Israeli troops invaded. As expected, the destruction was great, the death toll high and still unknown. People streamed in both directions: going to see how their homes had fared or leaving from the wreckage and bringing as many surviving possessions as possible.

“This is our main road,” Yusef said dryly, gesturing at the undulating pavement and sand that served the towns in this region. “There should be houses here. Now there is nothing,” he added, seemingly more to himself than to me.

I’d noticed the road right off: torn through the centre, ripped up by a bulldozer’s claw or a tank’s tools, a theme that re-surfaced on various main streets. There were the horse or donkey carts, piled as high as possible with mattresses, blankets, clothing, and furniture, trying to maneuver on these newly-rutted, overcrowded streets, or around earth plowed into peaks.

I’d met my friend Yusef at the main crossroad. He’d come from Gaza city much earlier, to confirm that his own house was devastated: “There is nothing left. They gutted it. I took two pairs of pants, that’s all,” he said. “I was expecting it. There’s no house the Israeli soldiers didn’t enter, damage or destroy. We couldn’t get here to see it until today,” he had told me, Israeli troops’ fire and shelling preventing all from entering, wounded from leaving, ambulances from arriving. This point must be mentioned again and again.

We came to Anis, another Ramattan media employee, standing in front of his destroyed home. “It was hit in the first days of the land invasion,” he said. “F-16. We had evacuated, thank God. When the shelling started, I was crying. I just wanted to get my kids out of here,” he confessed. “Anyway, thank God none were killed. My mother, father, and children, we’re all okay,” he said.

“But nothing is left,” he added. “Walla ishi,”–nothing at all.

I looked down the road and