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Residents fear new war as Gaza marks 2012 anniversary

Nov. 14, 2013 2:28 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2013 12:25 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian families say they live in constant fear that renewed fighting will break out, as the Gaza Strip prepares to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel's war on the coastal territory.

Israel's military bombarded the Gaza Strip for eight days in November last year, killing over 170 people and injuring at least 1,000.

Extensive damage was caused to civilian infrastructure as Israel hit over 1,500 sites, with media buildings targeted and several journalists killed and wounded.

Six Israelis also died in the cross-border violence.

"Today everybody here is busy with the war anniversary, but I am afraid of a third war. I am still paying debts until this moment after I re-built my house," Beit Lahiya resident Abu Alaa Hijazi told Ma'an.

Israel destroyed a five-story building belonging to Hijazi when an airstrike targeted neighboring properties. Suffering huge financial losses from the destruction of his property, Hijazi was forced to work as a laborer, having previously worked as a project manager.

He has huge debts to pay following reconstruction work on his damaged home.

"If a war occurs again, I will escape from the area," he says. Every time he hears an Israeli plane flying overhead he fears for what may happen.

Abu Anas Raya also lost nearly everything he owned during Israeli airstrikes.

"The most difficult thing a man might face is to lose the house that he spent his life building," he told Ma'an.

"The Palestinian people in Gaza are accustomed to war. Even in peacetime, Israel launches a psychological war."

'The world has lost its humanity'

Amnesty International says that tens of thousands of Gazans fled their homes during the conflict, with hundreds still displaced because their homes were destroyed by Israeli strikes.

A year on, Israeli restrictions on importing construction materials mean most Gazans have been unable to rebuild their damaged homes.

"The fear of more bloodshed hangs like a dark cloud over men, women and children who feel trapped in a cycle of violations fueled by a climate of impunity," said Deborah Hyams, researcher on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories at Amnesty International.

"The world continues to look the other way when it comes to the blockade on Gaza, which collectively punishes 1.7 million civilians. This stark violation of international law has been allowed to continue for more than six years," Hyams added.

Attiyeh Abu Khousa, whose 13-year-old son Mahmoud was killed when he was struck by an Israeli drone as he walked to a shop, told Amnesty that the world has forgotten about Gaza.

"The blockade is as bad as the war; it's like a slow death for everyone in Gaza. We are paying the price for disputes between different powers. Isn't that shameful? The world has lost its humanity," Abu Khousa said.
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