Blog: My home has been destroyed, but we will rebuild Gaza

As he grapples with heartbreaking news, an Islamic Relief aid worker* in Gaza struggles to plan for the future amid so much uncertainty. 

When I was around 10 years old, my father built a new house for us. Having lived with his parents and siblings in a refugee camp since 1948, being able to provide a shelter to protect his family, a safe haven for us, was the most meaningful moment of my father’s life. 

However, it wasn’t an easy process. My father had to borrow money from the bank, working extra hours and scrimping and saving wherever possible to pay back the loan. These were lean times for our family, when my 3 sisters only had around 20p between them to spend at school. We spent a couple of winters without proper windows or floor tiles. There wasn’t even paint on the walls. 

This is life for many Palestinians. When we build our homes, we invest our lives in them. Having a place of our own is our ultimate goal in life because we have been evicted and expelled from our land continuously. 

A hole torn in our safe haven

Yesterday was the final day of the humanitarian pause. It was also the day I learned that my own home has been damaged. 

I can’t confirm what the flat is like inside yet, but I can tell from pictures of the outside of the building that it was hit by a shell. There is definitely damage to the children’s room and the bathroom, as well as part of the storage room. I can’t travel north to check the building or see if our belongings are okay. It is too dangerous now and we do not have enough fuel for the journey. When I told my wife, she said: “Alhamdulillah, we will repair it inshallah”. She had been dreaming of relaxing and having a long sleep when we eventually returned to our home but now there is a 4-metre-wide hole in the building. 

I can’t find words to convey all my thoughts right now. My wife and I went through tough times to buy that flat. Like my father, we invested everything we had into that place. We have so many memories in that place, it’s where we had our 2 children. I remember the long nights we stayed awake trying to get them to sleep. I remember the sofa by the window that gets the sunlight and the sea breeze. I remember my son preparing his clothes and bag for his first day of school. When I told my children that their room had been damaged, my son asked, “Is my schoolbag okay? Where will we play when we return?” I told him that I did not know, and he simply said he would sleep in the living room if his bed was broken.

When I told my daughter, she showed how caring she is by immediately asking about my room. I wanted to tell her, “My baby, you do not need to worry about these things. You need to live the normal life of a child where you can play with your friends, go to school, watch cartoons, play video games, and just have fun.”

The memories are flooding back to me. 

I remember when we redid my kids’ room. We discussed every detail with them. Our daughter wanted pinks and purples. Our son didn’t care about the colours, he was only interested in making a place for his toy cars. He had cars of all colours and sizes all around the house back then. Now, I don’t even know if our real car will stay working long enough to get us back to our damaged home. I thought back to the new bookshelf I’d designed just last year. My wife and I always argued about my books being strewn all over the place. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find any of them now. Our souls are damaged, our thinking, our lives, our friends and families, our Palestine. Our home is just the latest thing.

‘I don’t know how I’ll begin to fix everything’

Everyone is telling us to be patient, at least we were all fine. I agree and thank Allah for everything, but I can’t stop thinking about our loss. I know that there are people who have lost much more, but this is my home and my memories. I do not know how I’ll begin to fix everything. I have started planning, but there are so many obstacles in my way. I do not know if Israel will allow construction material into Gaza again. I do not know if I will be able to find aluminium windows at the market. Maybe I’ll be able to find the material, but the cost will be so high that I can’t afford it. Maybe all the construction workers will be busy repairing other places. The whole city is destroyed…

I can put a cover over the broken walls, and we can stay in the remaining part of the house. We have another toilet we can use. Thousands of ideas come to my mind but I don’t know if I’ll be able to put them into practice or not. One thing I am certain about is that we will all return to our homes and we will fix Gaza. I am sure about that because Allah always support believers. And I believe everything happens for a reason. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah a thousand times.

I know my loss is not much compared to those who have lost their lives and families, but I can’t stop thinking of a reason why this is happening. What did my flat do that it needed to be bombed? It was shuttered, no fighting was coming from our building, but they wanted to destroy our homes, our memories, our heritage and our culture. They wanted us to have no reason to stay. But we are part of this land, and it is part of us. Alhamdulillah for all his giving. I pray I can write you a blog about the rebuilding work one day not too far from now. Please keep supporting us and asking for a ceasefire.