Shelter and stability elude Syrians made homeless by Feb. 6 Turkiye-Syria earthquakes

Special Shelter and stability elude Syrians made homeless by Feb. 6 Turkiye-Syria earthquakes
Locals affected by the February 6 earthquake attending a mass Iftar in the town of Atareb in the western countryside of Aleppo province, on March 31, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 11 May 2023

Shelter and stability elude Syrians made homeless by Feb. 6 Turkiye-Syria earthquakes

Shelter and stability elude Syrians made homeless by Feb. 6 Turkiye-Syria earthquakes
  • Around 1,900 buildings were destroyed in Syria’s northwest and more than 8,800 others left unusable
  • The sheer scale of housing shortage has overwhelmed authorities, keeping many families in limbo

LONDON: Since two devastating earthquakes struck northwest Syria and southern Turkiye on February 6, survivors have been living in temporary shelters and unofficial camps awaiting news of resettlement.

The sheer scale of shortage of accommodation has overwhelmed NGOs and local authorities, keeping families who lost their homes in limbo. Many traumatized survivors of the disaster are still too afraid to return indoors.

When the tremors struck Syria’s western city of Aleppo in the early hours of the fateful day, “people took refuge in parks and cemeteries, reassuring their children it was no more than a prolonged picnic,” Fatima Mardini, who volunteers in the unofficial camps, told Arab News. “So long as nothing but the sky was over their heads.”

The earthquakes compounded an already dire situation in northwest Syria, where 12 years of civil war had reduced many homes and public buildings to rubble, with some households and communities displaced multiple times by the fighting.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, estimated in February that some 5.37 million people in Syria were in need of shelter assistance in the earthquakes’ aftermath.

About 1,900 buildings were destroyed in the country’s northwest and more than 8,800 others rendered unusable, according to the Global Shelter Cluster, an inter-agency standing committee that coordinates shelter responses.

The earthquakes caused an estimated $5.1 billion in direct physical damage in Syria, according to a World Bank Global Rapid Assessment report published on March 3. Residential buildings accounted for almost half of those damaged.

A recent report by the UK-based NGO Action for Humanity found that 98 percent of people now living in camps had been displaced by the earthquakes.

People walk along an alley between tents at a camp for the displaced erected in the aftermath of the February 6 deadly earthquake, in Jindayris, northwestern Syria on February 19, 2023. (AFP)

The report, published in March, revealed that nine out of 10 people in the northwest’s camps “had already been displaced by the conflict at least once when they were displaced by the earthquakes.”

Some 12 percent of these camp residents had been displaced once or twice, 65 percent between three to seven times, and about 23 percent forced to flee their homes eight or more times, the report added.

In rebel-controlled areas of Syria’s northwest, tents have become almost a luxury, with prices ranging from $150 to $300, and sometimes even $500, at a time when the average monthly income is $50 to $75, Yaser Alshhada, country director at SKT Welfare, told Arab News.

Meanwhile, more than four million people in Syria’s northwest continue to depend on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.

The majority of these temporary shelters are schools, mosques and stadiums, where overcrowding, a lack of access to clean water and a damaged sewage system have increased the risk of disease.


  • More than 7,000 deaths and 10,400 injuries recorded in Syria from earthquake impact.
  • 4.1 million people in northwest Syria were reliant on humanitarian aid.
  • UN has distributed more than $16.56m to 500,000 affected Syrians in the northwestern regions since January.

Recently, the World Health Organization and the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, in partnership with other international NGOs and local health authorities, launched a cholera vaccination campaign in the most hard-hit areas for fear of a new outbreak.

Things were perhaps only slightly better in government-controlled areas. Aleppo-based volunteer Mardini told Arab News that she had spoken with young women who had not been able to bathe for a month since the earthquakes.

“One of them proudly told me she showered two days ago. When I asked how, she said that, although she feared another aftershock, she had quickly washed herself in the bathroom of their half-destroyed home before running back to the shelter.”

During the weeks immediately after the earthquakes, shelter conditions were catastrophic, Mohammad Al-Jaddou, a civil activist who founded the Ammerha Foundation to provide emergency response in Jableh, south of Latakia, and Aleppo, told Arab News.

“Large numbers of people were crammed into rooms,” he said, adding that the shelters in both Jableh and Aleppo were not equipped with sufficient facilities.

Displaced Syrians living in war-damaged buildings, are pictured in Syria’s northern city of Raqa on March 1, 2023, amid fears that the already fragile dwellings will not withstand an earthquake. (AFP)

In Jableh, Al-Jaddou’s team distributed meals and shelter kits to displaced families, many of whom, fearing aftershocks, were staying in mosques and parks despite the harsh winter weather.

Entire neighborhoods had vacated their homes, even those that were still intact, for weeks after the initial earthquakes because of the absence of utilities and the residual trauma.

“In well-serviced parts of the capital, Damascus, we merely get two hours of power every four hours at best,” Al-Jaddou said. “But things are even worse in quake-hit areas in Jableh and Aleppo.”

Three months after the earthquakes, local associations have managed to rehouse a few families, while others have chosen to move in with relatives.

Syrians who were made homeless after the devastating earthquake hit their country, receive humanitarian aid as they settle in a makeshift camp set up in a school in the town of Atareb in the western countryside of Aleppo province, on February 10, 2023. (AFP)

However, these associations are only able to provide housing support for six months. After that, households have to find a way to pay their rent amid tight financial conditions and a collapsed economy. Many people have been left homeless.

Al-Jaddou does not see the housing situation improving in the foreseeable future. “There are buildings that have been destroyed since 2011 with no efforts to restore them,” he said.

According to Aleppo-based volunteer Mardini, in government-controlled parts of the governorate, individual initiatives have managed to rehouse about 100 families, while those who can afford rent have resorted to cheap housing in poorer neighborhoods.

The government has also provided year-long grants to a number of households, while temporarily accommodating others in unfinished apartments, Marwan Alrez, general manager of the Mart Volunteer Team, told Arab News.

However, after an initial flurry of goodwill, state assistance soon dried up. “There used to be many shelters, including schools, to accommodate families,” Alrez said. “There were many tents. This is not the case anymore.

Syrians build a temporary camp, to house families made homeless by the deadly earthquake, in the town of Harim in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on the border with Turkiye, on February 8, 2023. (AFP)

“Shelters inside Aleppo city have been suspended. There are now only two shelters outside the city in the countryside — in Jibrin and in another town.

“Two days ago, I visited a school on a campaign to support about 150 children, but I have been told that the facility was scheduled to shut soon,” even though many of the families sheltered there are unemployed and have lost everything.

On March 24, Action for Humanity opened the Massa Village in the Al-Bab district of northwest Syria to accommodate 500 displaced families who have been living in tents and informal shelters.

Despite local and international efforts to house people in the wake of the earthquakes, the scale of need remains massive. Yet funding from international donors has fallen far short.

In a statement issued on March 7, a group of 47 Syrian and international NGOs, including Action for Humanity, Hand in Hand and the Danish Refugee Council, said “funding for the humanitarian response in Syria has been lagging.”

The agencies said that the Syria Earthquake Flash Appeal was “only 52 percent pledged, while only a third of the $206 million pledged has been obligated to partners and is available for response.

“Syrian NGOs are disproportionately neglected in funding allocations despite providing the bulk of the response in Syria, whether directly or as partners of the UN and international NGOs.”


UN peacekeepers try to stay safe amid Lebanon-Israel border flare-ups

UN peacekeepers try to stay safe amid Lebanon-Israel border flare-ups
Updated 13 sec ago

UN peacekeepers try to stay safe amid Lebanon-Israel border flare-ups

UN peacekeepers try to stay safe amid Lebanon-Israel border flare-ups
MAROUN AL-RAS, Lebanon: While trying to fulfil their mandate to keep the peace, UN soldiers deployed along Lebanon’s border with Israel during the worst hostilities there in nearly 20 years have another urgent concern: keeping their own forces safe.
Since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza seven weeks ago, troops from the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have repeatedly sheltered in bunkers during “intense shelling and rocket launches,” a senior commander said during a Reuters visit to a UNIFIL base in southern Lebanon.
“I’ve got to maintain force protection as a priority while also carrying out the mission,” said Lt. Col. Stephen MacEoin, battalion commander of the Irish and Polish soldiers stationed at Camp Shamrock in the village of Tiri, near Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.
The conflict in Gaza, some 200 km (124 miles) away to the south, has seen Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, trading fire daily along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Israeli attacks have killed about 100 people in Lebanon — 80 of them Hezbollah fighters — since Oct. 7.
MacEoin said he hoped the truce in Gaza between Hamas and Israel would be extended, as it was civilians “who suffer most” from conflict, be it in Lebanon or Gaza, and the violence in Gaza was linked to the situation in southern Lebanon.
“The concerns of the mission are that, after so many weeks of exchanges of fire, now we have a truce, a moment of calm, but that intensive changes of fire can really trigger a much wider cycle of conflict,” said UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti.
“This is the real warning and danger that everyone is facing not only in the south but in the region.”
He said UNIFIL communicated with both sides in the flare-ups on the Lebanon-Israel border to try to “de-escalate tensions.”
No peacekeepers have been killed since the escalation of hostilities. But two peacekeepers have been injured in two separate incidents and UNIFIL compounds and bases have been hit and damaged by mortar shells several times, Tenenti told Reuters.
“We’ve had a lot of firing north and south of the Blue Line...a lot of close incidents,” MacEoin said, referring to a 120-km (74 mile) demarcation drawn by the United Nations that marks the line to which Israeli forces withdrew when they left south Lebanon in 2000.
In the latest incident, a UNIFIL patrol was hit by Israeli gunfire in the vicinity of Aytaroun of southern Lebanon, although there were no casualties. The UN force called the attack on “deeply troubling.”
UNIFIL was established by the Security Council in 1978 after Israel invaded Lebanon. Its scope and size were expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The force is deployed in southern Lebanon with the primary role of helping maintain international peace and security.
The mission says it currently has about 10,000 troops drawn from 47 countries, and about 800 civilian staff, stationed in 45 positions throughout a 1,060 square km (409 square mile) area between the Litani River and the Blue Line.
Last December, an Irish soldier serving in UNIFIL was killed after the UNIFIL vehicle he was traveling in was fired on as it traveled in southern Lebanon. Seven people were charged by a Lebanese military tribunal in January for his death, the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.
Calm had prevailed on the border since Hamas and Israel agreed a temporary truce that began on Nov. 24. But on Thursday morning the Israeli military said it intercepted an “aerial target” that crossed from Lebanon. Earlier on Thursday the two sides struck a last-minute agreement to extend the truce.

Blinken tells Netanyahu ‘imperative’ to protect Gaza civilians

Blinken tells Netanyahu ‘imperative’ to protect Gaza civilians
Updated 30 min 44 sec ago

Blinken tells Netanyahu ‘imperative’ to protect Gaza civilians

Blinken tells Netanyahu ‘imperative’ to protect Gaza civilians
  • Stresses imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza

JERUSALEM: Visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, emphasized the need to protect civilians in southern Gaza, where many have fled, the State Department said.
Blinken “stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement, adding he “urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm.”

Truce in Gaza extended another day but talks over remaining hostages held by Hamas could get tougher

Truce in Gaza extended another day but talks over remaining hostages held by Hamas could get tougher
Updated 29 min 40 sec ago

Truce in Gaza extended another day but talks over remaining hostages held by Hamas could get tougher

Truce in Gaza extended another day but talks over remaining hostages held by Hamas could get tougher
  • Hamas is expected to demand greater concessions for many of the remaining captives
  • Blinken is expected to press for further extensions of the truce and the release of more hostages

JERUSALEM: Israel and Hamas agreed at the last minute Thursday to extend their ceasefire in Gaza by another day. But any further renewal of the deal that has seen dozens of hostages and prisoners released could prove more challenging since Hamas is expected to demand greater concessions for many of the remaining captives.
As word of the extension came, gunmen opened fire on people waiting for buses along a main highway entering Jerusalem, killing at least three people and wounding several others, according to police.
The two attackers, brothers from a Palestinian neighborhood in annexed east Jerusalem, were killed. Hamas said they were members of its armed wing and celebrated the assault, but called it “a natural response” to Israel’s actions in Gaza and elsewhere. It was unclear if the attack had been ordered by Hamas’ leaders or if it would have an impact on the truce.
International pressure has mounted for the cease-fire to continue as long as possible after nearly eight weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground campaign in Gaza that have killed thousands of Palestinians, uprooted more than three-quarters of the population of 2.3 million and led to a humanitarian crisis.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on his third visit to the region since the start of the war, said “my heart goes out” to the victims of the Jerusalem attack. Blinken is expected to press for further extensions of the truce and the release of more hostages.
“This process is producing results. It’s important, and we hope that it can continue,” he said.
The talks appear to be growing tougher, however, with Hamas having already freed most of the women and children kidnapped during the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war. The militants are expected to make greater demands in return for freeing men and soldiers.
Qatar, which has played a key role in mediating with Hamas, announced that the truce was being extended Thursday. In the past, Hamas has released at least 10 Israeli hostages per day in exchange for Israel’s release of at least 30 Palestinian prisoners.
The announcement followed a last-minute standoff, with Hamas saying Israel had rejected a proposed list that included seven living captives and the remains of three who the group said were killed in Israeli airstrikes. Israel later said Hamas submitted an improved list, but gave no details.
Israel says it will maintain the truce until Hamas stops releasing captives, at which point it will resume military operations aimed at eliminating the group. The Biden administration has told Israel that it must operate with far greater precision if it expands the ground offensive to the south, where many Palestinians have sought refuge.

Increasingly tense hostage talks
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense pressure from families of the hostages to bring them home. But his far-right governing partners are also pushing him to continue the war until Hamas is destroyed, and could bolt his coalition if he is seen as making too many concessions.
The initial truce — which began Friday and has now been extended twice — called for the release of women and children. Israeli officials say Gaza militants still hold around 30 women and children, who would all be released in a few days if the swaps continue at the current rate.
It’s not clear how many of the women might be soldiers. For soldiers and the men still in captivity, Hamas is expected to push for comparable releases of Palestinian men or prominent detainees, a deal Israel may resist.
Israel says around 125 men are still held hostage, including several dozen soldiers. Thus far, Hamas has released some men — mostly Thai laborers.
An Israeli official involved in hostage negotiations said talks on a further extension for the release of civilian men and soldiers were still preliminary, and that a deal would not be considered until all the women and children are out. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.
So far, most Palestinians released have been teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces. Several were women convicted by Israeli military courts of attempting to attack soldiers. Palestinians have celebrated the release of people they see as having resisted Israel’s decadeslong military occupation of lands they want for a future state.
With Wednesday’s releases, a total of 73 Israelis, including dual nationals, have been freed during the six-day truce, most of whom appear physically well but shaken. Another 24 hostages — 23 Thais and one Filipino — have also been released.
Before the cease-fire, Hamas released four hostages, and the Israeli army rescued one. Two others were found dead in Gaza. On Thursday, the military confirmed the death of Ofir Tzarfati, who was believed to be among the hostages, without providing any further details. Israeli media say the 27-year-old attended a music festival where at least 360 people were killed and several others were kidnapped on Oct. 7.
Hamas and other Palestinian militants killed over 1,200 people — mostly civilians — in their wide-ranging attack across southern Israel that day and captured around 240. Authorities have only ever provided approximate figures.
Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion in Gaza have killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
The toll is likely much higher, as officials have only sporadically updated the count since Nov. 11. The ministry says thousands more people are feared dead under the rubble.
Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence.

In Gaza an anxious respite
During the pause in fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have been consumed by the search for aid and horror at the extent of destruction.
Residents described entire residential blocks as leveled in Gaza City and surrounding areas in the north. The smell of decomposing bodies trapped under collapsed buildings fills the air, said Mohmmed Mattar, a 29-year-old resident of the city who along with other volunteers searched for the dead.
In the south, the truce has allowed more aid to be delivered from Egypt, up to 200 trucks a day. But humanitarian officials say it is not enough, given that most now depend on outside aid. Over 1 million displaced people have sought refuge in UN-run shelters, with many forced to sleep outside in cold, rainy weather because of overcrowding.
At a distribution center in Rafah, large crowds line up daily for bags of flour but supplies run out quickly.
“Every day, we come here,” said one woman in line, Nawal Abu Namous. “We spend money on transportation to get here, just to go home with nothing.”

Displaced Syrians face another harsh winter as fuel costs soar

Displaced Syrians face another harsh winter as fuel costs soar
Updated 30 November 2023

Displaced Syrians face another harsh winter as fuel costs soar

Displaced Syrians face another harsh winter as fuel costs soar
  • Families burning garbage to stay warm as prices become ‘unbearable’
  • Humanitarian aid to Syria has been falling steadily since 2021

DAMASCUS: Syrians displaced by war and living in camps in the northwest of the country are preparing for another difficult winter amid soaring fuel prices, dwindling humanitarian aid and a scarcity of jobs.

Abdul Salam Al-Youssef, 53, who had to leave his home in Al-Tah, south of Idlib, told Arab News: “We have been in random camps for three years, lacking the minimum necessities of life, and our suffering increases at the beginning of each winter.

“We, the heads of families, are responsible for large expenses because the price of all heating methods exceeds $150, and even the prices of heaters are high, and these are all costs that we are unable to bear.”

He added that the tents in which people had been living for the past three years were becoming worn and letting in water.

Khaled Abdel Rahman, also from Al-Tah, tells a similar story.

“I have been displaced for five years … and every year when winter comes, it brings with it worries for us,” he said.

“We used to receive support for heating materials at the beginning of every winter, but every year this support decreases. Until, in the last two years, we started burning nylon garbage or plastic containers. These materials are harmful to health, especially children, and we use these because we do not have the ability to buy heating materials because their price is very expensive for us.”

The average price of a ton of firewood was now about $150, he said.

“We do not have the ability to buy a single kilo of firewood in these bad conditions. Our tents are in very poor condition. We patch and sew them every winter, and with every strong wind we repair them again.”

The amount of humanitarian aid being provided to camps in northwest Syria has been falling steadily since 2021.

Displaced people accounted for almost half of the more than 6 million now living in northwest Syria. (Supplied)

Samir Al-Ahmad, who sells firewood at a local market, told Arab News: “Firewood in previous years was much cheaper than now, but the prices of all heating materials are very expensive.

“I wanted to install a diesel greenhouse, but I did not have the ability to do so, so I installed a wood-burning greenhouse because I can pay for firewood from my work in this market. Firewood is very expensive, with prices ranging from $140 to $210, depending on its type and quality.”

He added that these days, people bought only small amounts of firewood when they could afford it.

The Syria Response Coordinators team said that displaced people accounted for almost half of the more than 6 million now living in northwest Syria. Of those, more than 2 million — including 600,000 women, 888,000 children and 84,000 people with special needs — live in the region’s camps.

Israel-Hamas truce extended for a day

Israel-Hamas truce extended for a day
Updated 30 November 2023

Israel-Hamas truce extended for a day

Israel-Hamas truce extended for a day
  • Israel’s military said the “operational pause” would be extended, without specifying for how long
  • Hamas said there was an agreement to “extend the truce for a seventh day,” without giving further details

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: A truce between Israel and Hamas will continue, both sides said Thursday, moments before the deal was due to expire, though details of any official agreement remained unclear.

Minutes before the halt in fighting was due to expire at 0500GMT, Israel’s military said the “operational pause” would be extended, without specifying for how long.

“In light of the mediators’ efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue,” it said.

Hamas meanwhile said there was an agreement to “extend the truce for a seventh day,” without further details.

Qatar, which has led the truce negotiations, confirmed the pause had been extended until Friday.

There had been pressure to extend the pause to allow more hostage releases and additional aid into devastated Gaza, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arriving in Israel for talks Wednesday night.

The truce has brought a temporary halt to fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas militants poured over the border into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, according to Hamas officials, and reduced large parts of the north of the territory to rubble.

The truce agreement allows for extensions if Hamas can release another 10 hostages a day, and a source close to the group said Wednesday that it was willing to prolong the pause by four days.

But with just an hour to go before the truce was due to expire, Hamas said its offer to free another seven hostages, and hand over the bodies of another three it said were killed in Israeli bombardment, had been refused.

Both sides had earlier said they were ready to return to fighting, with Hamas’s armed wing warning its fighters to “maintain high military readiness... in anticipation of a resumption of combat if it is not renewed,” according to a message posted on its Telegram channel.

IDF spokesman Doron Spielman said troops would “move into operational mode very quickly and continue with our targets in Gaza,” if the truce expired.

Overnight, 10 more Israeli hostages were freed under the terms of the deal, with another four Thai hostages and two Israeli-Russian women released outside the framework of the arrangement.

Video released by Hamas showed masked gunmen handing hostages to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Among those freed was Liat Beinin, who also holds American citizenship, and works as a guide at Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.

US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply gratified” by the release.

“This deal has delivered meaningful results,” he said of the truce.

Shortly after the hostages arrived in Israel, the country’s prison service said 30 Palestinian prisoners had been released, including well-known activist Ahed Tamimi.

Since the truce began on November 24, 70 Israeli hostages have been freed in return for 210 Palestinian prisoners.

Around 30 foreigners, most of them Thais living in Israel, have been freed outside the terms of the deal.

Israel has made clear it sees the truce as a temporary halt intended to free hostages, but there are growing calls for a more sustained pause in fighting.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded a “true humanitarian cease-fire,” warning Gazans are “in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe.”

And China, whose top diplomat Wang Yi was in New York for Security Council talks on the violence, urged an immediate “sustained humanitarian truce,” in a position paper released Thursday.

The hostage releases have brought joy tinged with agony, with families anxiously waiting each night to learn if their loved ones will be freed, and learning harrowing details from those who return.

Four-year-old Abigail was captured after crawling out from under the body of her father, killed by militants, covered in his blood, her great aunt Liz Hirsh Naftali said.

“It’s a miracle,” she said of the little girl’s survival and release.

However Israel’s army also said Wednesday it was investigating a claim by Hamas’s armed wing that a 10-month-old baby hostage, his four-year-old brother and their mother had all been killed in an Israeli bombing in Gaza.

Israel pounded the Gaza Strip relentlessly before the truce, forcing an estimated 1.7 million people to leave their homes and limiting the entry of food, water, medicine and fuel.

Conditions in the territory remain “catastrophic,” according to the World Food Programme, and the population faces a “high risk of famine.

Israeli forces targeted several hospitals in northern Gaza during the fighting, accusing Hamas of using them for military purposes.

The spokesman for the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry, Ashraf Al-Qudra, told AFP Wednesday that doctors found five premature babies dead in Gaza City’s Al-Nasr hospital, which medical staff had been forced to abandon.

The truce has allowed those displaced to return to their homes, but for many there is little left.

“I discovered that my house had been completely destroyed — 27 years of my life to build it and everything is gone,” said Taghrid Al-Najjar, 46, after returning to her home in southeastern Gaza.

The violence in Gaza has also raised tensions in the West Bank, where nearly 240 Palestinians have been killed by either Israeli soldiers or settlers since October 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

An eight-year-old boy and a teenager were the latest deaths in the occupied territory, with Israel saying it “responded with live fire... and hits were identified” after suspects hurled explosive devices toward troops.