Palestinian family lives atop rubble of demolished home in Gaza

By Mahmoud Essa

BEIT LAHIA, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - The al-Kahloot family is living on memories in Gaza after being displaced by Israeli bombardment and then returning to live in a large tent pitched atop the rubble of their home.

“We are staying in this tent because this is our place and home. It’s our house, we can’t abandon it, it has our dreams and memories," said Umm Nael al-Kahloot, whose son was killed earlier in the Hamas-Israel war.

"We had good memories in this house, I’m trying to heal our pain and find a place to stay. We can’t stay away from our home, even if there are fierce (Israeli) strikes, we'd leave for a day or two then we’d be back in our place.”

Many Palestinian families share their plight as Israeli air strikes and heavy shelling has killed tens of thousands of people and reduced much of the Gaza Strip to ruins since Hamas carried out a cross-border attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage.

Many homes like that of the al-Kahloots have been pulverised, displacing families, some of whom have returned in hope that at least part of their dwellings might have survived air strikes and shelling.

The al-Kahloots' house, part of a vast swathe of concrete rubble in the densely built-up northern Gaza town of Beit Lahia, consisted of five floors, which all collapsed. But the family remain attached to their home, clinging to the destruction.

"Despite all of this struggle that we are going through and the tragedies we have witnessed, we have roamed around, and we couldn’t live anywhere else but here," said Ismail al-Kahloot, Umm Nael's husband.

"Five families eat, sleep, and stay in this tent you see here."

Umm Nael hangs clothes to dry on a rope and waters her plants. She sorts food pots and places them on an open fire.

"Why all this suffering? What did we do wrong to deserve all of this? We are helpless, we don’t have any hand in all of this (war)," she said.

"We couldn’t save anything from the house, from the work (studio) or from the furniture, everything went under the rubble. These are old items. I'm cleaning them up as much as I can."

(Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Mark Heinrich)