Gaza City – Everyone who was in the Saqallah family home in Gaza City is thought to have been killed when the house was struck overnight on Wednesday in an Israeli air raid.
Estimates are that there were at least 30 people there, including four brothers and their extended families, in the home that was reduced to rubble in the southwest of the city.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 25 percent of Gaza’s residential buildings, or more than 98,000 housing units, have been destroyed in Israeli air attacks since Israel launched its bombing campaign on October 7.
“We got a phone call at 9:30pm saying my uncle’s house will be targeted,” said Ramzi Saqallah. “We tried calling my uncle and cousins but the network connectivity here is very bad.”
The next morning Ramzi arrived at the site of where the building once stood and was shocked at what he saw.
“I can’t describe the scene,” he said. “Body parts just flung on the ground. There are 30 or 40 other dead people under the rubble. What human can stomach this?”
“I grew up with these people, and I’ve known them my entire life,” said Khalil Arafat, a neighbour. “They are doctors and are not affiliated with any party. Now they’ve been reduced to body parts under the rubble.”
Arafat described hearing the sound of two missiles hitting, followed by another two shortly afterwards.
In the centre of the Gaza Strip, in the al-Zahra area, four residential tower blocks were targeted and levelled to the ground overnight on Thursday.
Karam Qaoud and his family had lived in their apartment for five years.
“At 5am, the Israeli army called us and told us to evacuate,” he said. “They didn’t tell us which blocks they would target. We ran outside, and we saw the missile strike Tower 10, then 3, then 1 and 5.”
Qaoud says he has no other place to go and has to look for someone who can take his family in.
“We can’t stay on the streets,” he said.
Another neighbour, Mohammed Rushdi Abdellatif, said the early morning evacuation calls had sown panic and chaos.
“People were checking if they were missing family members in the dark,” he said. “We had people who were displaced from the north and had been staying with us, so now we are like sardines in a tin, trying to find a new roof over our heads.”
Abdellatif swore to stand his ground.
“The Arab countries have forsaken us,” he said. “We only have God on our side.”