A brief ceasefire on Saturday allowed thousands of Palestinians to return home to see the destruction caused since Israel began its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip last week.
Residents climbed through mountains of rubble that bore little resemblance to the neighborhoods they once called home, scavenging for whatever personal items they could salvage. Others searched along with municipality workers for the bodies of family members, friends and neighbors still trapped under debris.
Men in the village of Abbasan al-Kabeera look for bodies amidst the rubble of a house hit by an Israeli F-16 the day before.
More than 100 bodies were pulled from the wreckage of homes and buildings across the coastal enclave on Saturday, bringing the total death toll in Gaza to more than 1,000.
The burnt body of Ibrahim Suleiman Giblan Giblan was found outside his home Saturday morning in the village of Abbasan al-Kabeera in the southern Gaza Strip.
A bulldozer digs through the rubble in the Shujaiyeh in Gaza City looking for the remains of Hassan Abu Heen, 81, Abdelrahman Ziad, 25, and Osama Zager Abu Hein, 28.
Israeli tanks stand in a cleared section of the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City on Saturday, watching over residents as they pick through the area’s wreckage for belongings during the ceasefire.
Saturday’s 12-hour ceasefire revealed the true scale and scope of destruction in Gaza’s latest tragedy.
Residents dig through the rubble in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City in an attempt to collect what few possession they can recover from a week’s worth of intense Israeli tank fire.
Since residents fled the area last Sunday, the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City has seen fierce gun battles between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters, and a concentrated bombardment by Israeli tanks, drones, and F-16s. What was once one of Gaza’s most densely packed neighborhoods is now a graveyard of bodies and buildings.
Similar to Shujaiyeh, fierce gun battles and a heavy Israeli bombing campaign have taken place in Beit Hannoun, a city on the northeast edge of the Gaza Strip, since the Israeli military began its ground invasion last week. Hospitals and schools are riddled with bullet holes and gaping cavities left by tank fire and fighter jets.
On Saturday afternoon, residents managed to pull one body out of the rubble of what was once a home in the center of Beit Hannoun. The man’s name was unknown, but residents and municipality workers told VICE News they were certain there were other bodies left beneath the piles of rubble throughout the city. Unfortunately, they were forced to abandon their work as the sun set and the temporary ceasefire drew to a close, the remaining bodies left for another day.
“This is the dirtiest war we’ve ever seen,” said Ibrahim Abu Teir, outside the destroyed home of his brother in the village of Abbassan al-Kabbera in the southern Gaza Strip. “2008 and 2012 were nothing compared to this.”