Ramadan Abu Seif, a Palestinian refugee ordered to demolish his house, angrily watches as Hamas bulldozers demolish his neighbors’ houses to widen a riverfront street in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza while waiting for them to arrive at his home, emphasizing that it “would mean death my memories and the memories of my ancestors. The Hamas government has begun widening the narrow, bottle-necked coastal road to complete the last section of the Corniche that runs from the north. the Gaza Strip to its south.
As part of this project, bulldozers belonging to the Ministry of Public Works began the demolition of dozens of houses a week ago blocking access to Al-Rashid Street overlooking the sea. These houses are part of the Al-Shati refugee camp located in the west of Gaza City and founded in 1949 . They are home to over 100,000 Palestinians.
Ramadan Abu Seif, 58, is not opposed to the expansion of the street, but categorically refuses to demolish his two-story house and cafe, which he built twenty years ago near the beach in the camp.
Pointing to the demolished house of his neighbor, the man asks: “For whom are people being evicted from the camp?” If they demolish my house, it means the death of my memories and the memories of my grandparents, father and mother.”
“We want to keep our identity in the camp. We are like fish. If we leave the camp, we will die,” Abu Seif continues.
He indicates that he received an offer from the government to give him one hundred and six thousand dinars (about $150,000) as compensation for a 500 square meter house, but considers this “unfair.”
And every morning, watching the demolition of houses, the townspeople, including several old people, mourn their memories.
Among them is Abu Hassan (80), who sits leaning on his cane with some of them to remember his childhood in the region after he and his families were displaced from their Palestinian villages to the Gaza Strip in 1948. .
At the entrance to the al-Shati poor camp, workers unloaded some of the furniture from the building of the service club and catering center, which is the “moral symbol” of the camp, and uprooted the floor of the mini-football. field, preparing it for demolition.
This club, founded in 1952, will be relocated outside the camp, namely to the neighboring Al-Sudania area in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
An UNRWA staff member, who asked not to be named, told AFP: “We have nothing to do with the demolition work. We have decided to evacuate the club, women’s service center and hygiene department at the Shati refugee camp at the request of the host government in Gaza.” He continued: “Our mission is to serve the refugees.”
Refugee Kamal Saidam (61) looks angry and sad about the demolition of the club building, and he says, standing in disbelief next to the club building in which he played since childhood: “We are not against the expansion of the street, but they should not influence us as residents.”
Saidam claimed: “If I am given compensation in the amount of two thousand dinars per meter, I will not leave my house. I was born here and leaving the camp means erasing my identity.”
Refugees make up about two-thirds of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are poor. Since 2007, Israel has imposed a tight blockade of the Gaza Strip.