Some children no longer look on their homes as a place of safety, security and comfort. Others don’t even have a home to go to. The Israeli bombardment damaged or destroyed more than 20,000 houses, forcing some families into tents and others into crowding in with relatives. Hamas distributed money to displaced families to rebuild their homes but the Israeli blockade has created a desperate shortage of materials. Almost one year later, some children still have no roof over their head.
Hanan Attar, a slight 10-year-old wearing flip-flops several sizes too big for her small feet, is wistful as she recalls the house destroyed by an Israeli tank shell. “”We had land, my father is a farmer,” she says. “We used to grow watermelons, but the land was too close to the border and we can’t get there now.”
In the summer months, families flock to the beach on Fridays and Saturdays. The sight of children splashing in the waves is cheering until one remembers that every day 20m gallons of raw sewage is pumped into the water. Since Gaza’s sewage processing plant was bombed after the kidnap of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in July 2006, there has been no alternative means of disposal. Now, according to Save the Children, children are developing skin diseases as well as bacterial infections from swimming in polluted water.