There are still bodies of the dead in the rubble of buildings in the Gaza Strip iRADIO

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Families and rescuers in the Gaza Strip continue to use hand tools and bare hands to search for missing people trapped in the rubble of buildings after Israeli airstrikes and shelling. The American newspaper The New York Times writes about it.



THE WORLD IN 20 MINUTES
Gauze
15:27 March 31, 2024

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Families and rescue workers in the Gaza Strip continue to use hand tools and bare hands to search for missing people trapped in the rubble of buildings after Israeli airstrikes and shelling (illustrative photo, Gaza February 22, 2024) | Photo: Mahmoud Issa | Source: Reuters

Gaza has become a 140 square kilometer graveyard. Every destroyed building is just another broken down grave for those still trapped inside. According to the most recent November estimate by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, approximately seven thousand people are missing in Gaza. Humanitarian organizations believe that the current number will be several thousand higher.


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Some of the missing were buried before the authorities could include them in their statistics. Others lie in places too dangerous to reach, others simply disappeared in the middle of the fighting, and others were quite possibly detained by Israeli soldiers. The rest of the missing will most likely remain trapped under the rubble of bombed-out buildings.

After Israeli airstrikes, a small crowd of rescuers usually gathers at the scene of the accident. Professional civil defense workers, family members and neighbors are searching for the victims. They climb over the dusty ruins of houses to dig, dig and carry away stones. The people they search for are usually found dead, days, weeks or even months later.

According to The New York Times, people buried in the rubble make up a shadow of the death toll following Israeli attacks in Gaza. It is a sort of footnote to the official death toll, which, according to local authorities controlled by Hamas, is over 31,000. At the same time, it is an open wound for families hoping for a miracle.

Due to continued shelling, crossfire and airstrikes, it is often too dangerous to search the wreckage for bodies. Other times, relatives are too far away to do so, having become separated from the rest of the family and seeking safety in another part of the Gaza Strip.

Forty days under the rubble

“Forty days my family is under the rubble and we can’t get to them,” Salem Qassem told reporters in November. He fled from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip to nearby Jabalia at the start of the war, four days before learning that his father was dead. When he was finally able to return, he found his father’s three-story house in ruins. No other relatives who lived there could be found.

Residents of the Gaza Strip (illustrative photo)


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When a multi-story building collapses in the Gaza Strip, it is impossible to clear the mound of rubble without heavy machinery and a supply of fuel. Often neither is available. Since 2007, when Hamas took control of the area, the Gaza Strip has been under a blockade enforced jointly by Israel and Egypt. The territory is thus largely prohibited from having heavy machinery, which is usually used in rescuing people after earthquakes and other devastating events.

A civil defense official told The New York Times that he knew of only two excavators available in the Gaza Strip for the task. Without heavy equipment, rescuers rely on shovels, drills and their own hands. It is a dreary monotonous work, performed mostly by men full of anger and sorrow, without food, water or rest.

When an airstrike destroyed a multi-story building in Nusayrat at the end of October, there was so much debris that a bulldozer had to come and clear the road first, says 30-year-old medic Ahmed Ismael. The victims of the attack were his relatives and also two families in the adjacent building.

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Ahmed’s extended family sought refuge in Nusayrat. Several of its members are now buried in the rubble. The bulldozer didn’t help. The buildings were too massive, and after clearing the road, the digger driver said he didn’t have enough fuel anyway. Calling the emergency number 101, which is the equivalent of the European number 112 in the Gaza Strip, did not help either. There is a weak signal throughout the territory, and telephone and Internet connections often fail completely.

Therefore, instead of calling, many people go to the streets where the fighting is raging to ask for help from the civil defense headquarters. Even if they do manage to get through, fuel shortages and ongoing attacks mean ambulances and rescuers have a hard time moving around the Gaza Strip to help.

In addition, since mid-November, when the Israeli army occupied most of the northern part of the Gaza Strip, the possibilities of the Palestinian Red Crescent teams are also limited. The organization says it is barred from entering the area by soldiers. As such, it cannot respond to desperate calls from people who are stuck there, The New York Times concludes.

Jiří Klečka, spring

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Tags: bodies dead rubble buildings Gaza Strip iRADIO

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