A massacre took place in the Palestinian town of Khuza’a between July 23 and July 24, 2014. Testimonies from survivors recall instances when charred corpses littered the streets, ambulances where shot at and forced to retreat, and Israeli soldiers fired on families waving white flags and rallied them into homes that would later be struck by missiles.
Khuza’a, just east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, is no stranger to war crimes. In Israel’s 2008-9 invasion of the Gaza Strip, Khuza’a was besieged by snipers who fired on civilians and tanks that blew holes into buildings in which families sought refuge. But in Israel’s latest invasion, Operation Protective Edge, the brutality reached new levels.
When residents of Khuza’a were told that ambulances had finally broken through the siege, nearly a thousand injured and uninjured Palestinians rushed outside to greet their only way out. But the ambulances were absent. Tank shells rained on their heads, according to Abu Ali Qudail who was there at the scene. Family members were left behind to bleed in the ensuing scramble.
Even those who managed to escape were not safe. At least twenty members of the Al-Najjar family were killed after an air strike destroyed the building they were sleeping in. The family had fled Khuza’a and taken refuge in a Khan Younis refugee camp. A twelve-hour ceasefire was set to begin minutes after they were buried beneath the rubble.
Despite the trauma of the last five years, life in Khuza’a has continued to move forward. Freelance journalist and creative writer Ebaa Rezeq, who lives in the Gaza Strip, witnessed the destruction with her own eyes. Since the invasion’s conclusion, she has traveled to Khuza’a on a number of occasions to document first-person accounts of what the town’s residents have lived through.
Ebaa has also taken a number of photographs that provide an eerily quiet glimpse into Khuza’a’s transition back into daily life. These are a selection of her photographs.
Photos by Ebaa Rezeq. Words by Sami Kishawi.