As part of this project, bulldozers from the Ministry of Public Works began removing dozens of houses blocking the opening of Al-Rashid Street, which overlooks the sea, a week ago. These houses are part of Al refugee camp -Shati, located in the western part of Gaza City and founded in 1949. They are home to more than 100,000 Palestinians.
Ramadan Abu Seif, 58, doesn’t bother widening the road, but he steadfastly refuses to demolish his two-story house and café, which he built 20 years ago near the beach in the camp.
Pointing to his neighbor’s demolished house, the man asks, “Who are people displaced from the camp for?” If they demolish my house, it means the death of my memories and the memories of my grandparents, father and mother.”
“We want to preserve our identity in the camp. We are like fish. If we leave the camp, we will die,” Abu Seif continues.
He specifies that he has received an offer from the government to give him one hundred and six thousand dinars (about 150,000 dollars) in compensation for his 500-square-metre house, but he considers it “unfair”.
And every morning witnessing the clearing of houses, citizens including some elderly people who complain about their memories.
Among them is Abu Hassan (80), who sits leaning on his cane with some of them as they recall their childhood in the region after they were displaced with their families from their Palestinian villages in 1948 to the Gaza Strip.
At the entrance to the poor al-Shati camp, workers were unloading some furniture from the Service Club and Catering Assistance Center building, which forms a “moral symbol” for the camp, and uprooting the floor of the soccer field, in preparation for its demolition.
This clubfounded in 1952, will be moved out of the field, in especially in the nearby area of Al-Sudaniyya in the northern Gaza Strip.
An UNRWA official, who asked not to be named, told AFP: “We have nothing to do with the demolition work. We have decided to evacuate the clubthe women’s service center and the hygiene department in the Shati refugee camp, at the request of the host country government in Gaza.” She continued, “Our mission is to provide services to refugees.”
Refugee Kamal Saidam (61) looks angry and sad about the removal of the building cluband says standing in bewilderment next to the building club in which he had played since he was a child: “We are not against the expansion of the road, but it shouldn’t affect us as residents”. He stressed that “the club it is one of the symbols of the camp and I cannot imagine that we will be displaced from here”.
Saidam said: “If they give me a fee of two thousand dinars a meter, I won’t leave my home. I was born here and leaving the camp is an erasure of my identity.”
Refugees make up about two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million inhabitants, most of whom are poor. Since 2007, Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the Strip.
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