In the Alzaytoun neighborhood south of
"It was very difficult for me, being a widow and mother of five children. During the past period, my children and I lived in one room at my parents' home. My life without my husband is extremely difficult,” Rania told OnIslam.net.
“It's difficult every time I go from an institution to another to ask for assistance. Actually, it's true they will build us this house, but still I don't feel any real joy when my husband is no longer there. He's no longer there," said with tears in her eyes.
Fixed Homes, Broken Hearts
In the Gaza Strip, families whose homes were destroyed during the 2009 war are starting to see some signs of reconstruction, but they still face heartache.
In another corner of the Assamouni's neighborhood, where the Israeli military destroyed almost 20 homes during the 2009 attack on the coastal region, Ziyad Assamouni stood in front of a recently constructed home in the neighborhood.
"I had lived in this place along with eight family members before the Israeli bulldozers crushed our house during the war. During the past two years, I used to move from one rented house to another under bad conditions. Once, I rented a home made of one room that was used for breeding some birds," he recalled.
The man went on to explain how his brother and sister along with her husband were killed during the war. "Besides the displacement I have endured, I went through very bitter moments. I recall that my nephew, who lost his father during the war, used to call me Dad. Now, I'm looking forward to receiving this house completely constructed by winter, so that at least I can guarantee having a warm place for my little children."
He hopes that the 950 square foot home could eventually secure him and his family a better life.
Ziyad's new house is being funded by the Palestinian Housing Council, which belongs to the Gaza-based Palestinian Housing Ministry.
Construction of new homes for those displaced by the Israeli war is complicated by the four-year-long Israeli blockade. Although Israeli officials eased the blockade last summer, they continue to limit construction materials from entering into the occupied territory.
One of the leading Arab NGOs that funds and oversees construction projects for war-torn houses in the territory is Kuwait's Al-Rahma Society for Aid and Development The society has embarked on rebuilding homes partially or completely. Kamal Mesleh, the
"We have already reconstructed 700 partially destroyed houses. In the
coming four months, we are expected to complete construction of 100 homes in the territory."
Asked how they could have completed building these homes amid a lack of raw building materials, Mesleh explained that they are paying a premium for materials.
"In the beginning, we found it a big problem, but we began to overcome it by picking whatever is available on the local market, like concrete. We didn't care where the materials come from, whether from abroad or from underground. More importantly, such materials are made available in the local market."
Since January 2008, Gazans have been relying on underground smuggling tunnels to bring in essential goods and commodities from neighboring
According to the Palestinian minister of housing in
"Many houses have been rebuilt by other NGOs in
The 22-day Israeli war on Gaza, which lasted from December 2008 through January 2009, claimed the lives of 1400 Palestinians, half of whom were women and children. The war also destroyed the homes of about 3500 families. Many of these families moved in with relatives or friends, while some are still living in tents.