31 Jul 2014

At Gaza mosque ruins with families living among debris

The first thing I noticed was a tug at my arm. I looked down to see a young girl in a blue top smiling up at me, writes Channel 4 News Producer Thom Walker.

We had come to the Al-Shate refugee camp in central Gaza City, to film where an Israeli strike had hit the Al-Sosi mosque a couple of days ago, destroying it, and collapsing one of the minarets.The tower had fallen right across the street, taking with it the whole face of an apartment block opposite.

In my very broken Arabic I said hello to that same girl who was trying to talk to me. “Where are you from?” I asked.

“There!” she said, pointing to the third floor of the building across the road. The whole face of the block had been destroyed. From the street below we could see furniture, beds, a wardrobe.

“Come and see,” she said. Her name was Bisan, and she was 10-years-old. Including this conflict, she has already witnessed three wars in the last six years.

She introduced me to her father Wiam, and we walked upstairs and meet the rest of her family, still living among the debris.

An Israeli drone had dropped two warning rockets, known as a “knock on roof” on their house at 2.30am, two nights previously. The family was given just five minutes to clear their home.

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“It was terrifying, we had to run away so quickly,” she told us.

She led us around her bedroom, now a dusty ruin, and showed us the computer where she liked to work. In the living room, three white cats played in the corner among the mattresses where many of the family were now sleeping. Around 30 of them were now crammed into a few rooms.

In the kitchen, some of the women made bread, while the younger boys insisted on talking to us about football. “You like Real Madrid?” her cousin Mohammed asked, wearing a white Madrid shirt himself. “Sure,” I said. He seemed pleased.

Read more: Inside the Gaza UN school 'shelled by Israel'

Like every family I have met in Gaza, they were warm and welcoming. Before we left Bisan told us: “My favourite subject is English, I would like to be a journalist one day.”

I hope she gets the chance.

Follow @paulmasonews @thompwalker and @Worldwidewebb1 in Gaza.