HomeTop StoriesA teenager from Gaza spent the last Eid surrounded by her family....

A teenager from Gaza spent the last Eid surrounded by her family. Now she collects their bones.

Normally it would be a time of parties and family gatherings, where children would wear new clothes and receive money. This year, Seraj al-Najjar, 19, spent the Eid al-Fitr festival collecting the bones of her relatives from the rubble of her former home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

As the sun set, she picked her way through the rubble, dragging a bag containing the remains of family members for whom she hoped to provide a proper burial.

“Last Eid, six of my uncles came to visit me. It was pure happiness,” Najjar told an NBC News crew on Tuesday, choking back tears.

This year, before millions of Muslims around the world began three days of festivities on Wednesday to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Najjar said she would mourn the deaths of 25 family members, including her father, Mazen al Najjar, who was murdered . during Israeli shelling on December 5.

Siraj al-Najjar, 19, searches the rubble of houses in Khan Younis for the remains of family members.  (NBC News)

Siraj al-Najjar, 19, searches the rubble of houses in Khan Younis for the remains of family members. (NBC News)

Najjar was among a group of Palestinians who returned to Khan Younis after Israel announced it had withdrawn its troops on Sunday after months of heavy fighting and bombing.

See also  Douglas DC-4 plane crashes in Alaska, officials say

Like many, she thought her former neighborhood looked like a wasteland, a moonscape of concrete and beams, overturned vehicles, bulldozed buildings, roads littered with rubble and rubble.

As people searched the wreckage to salvage what they could from the massive destruction, a woman walked past Najjar with bags full of clothes over her back and a baby on her hip. Beside her, a young boy covered in dust held a fluffy toy. Bright red, it stood out against the endless gray of the rubble.

Another woman sang an old Arabic song: “Home, oh home. Tell me where have the loved ones gone? Where? …. Your night was full of light.”

Palestinians walk through the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Monday, April 8, 2024.Image: (Fatima Shbair / AP)Palestinians walk through the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Monday, April 8, 2024.Image: (Fatima Shbair / AP)

Palestinians walk through the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Monday, April 8, 2024.Image: (Fatima Shbair / AP)

As she picked through the rubble, Najjar said the stench of death led her to bodies that may have belonged to her relatives, some of whom she was able to identify by their clothing, others by belongings such as medicine.

See also  Saturday Sessions: Shane Smith & The Saints Play "All I See Is You"

“We identified him by his blood-stained scarf,” she said of one of her youngest relatives, Salam. “We only saw the little bones.”

Whether his death will be documented remains unclear.

Health officials in the Gaza Strip say more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war broke out on October 7, after Hamas crossed the border and rampaged in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

Zena Hasona, 10, is now in Rafah after being expelled from Gaza City.  (NBC News)Zena Hasona, 10, is now in Rafah after being expelled from Gaza City.  (NBC News)

Zena Hasona, 10, is now in Rafah after being expelled from Gaza City. (NBC News)

Six months later, many more bodies are believed to be buried under the rubble in Gaza, where hospitals have been destroyed, food and medicine are scarce and most of the 2.3 million residents have been displaced.

More than half took refuge in the enclave’s southernmost town of Rafah, where some handed out small bags of sweets to children and offered Eid prayers in the ruins of a mosque, whose minaret was still standing but its dome collapsed.

See also  Philadelphia is offering a bonus of up to $1,000 for lifeguards this summer

“It’s not Eid,” said Zena Hasona, 10, who fled from Gaza City to Rafah after Israel urged residents to leave as it launched its ground invasion of the enclave’s north. “We don’t have anything like we used to. We had everything in Gaza: our family, relatives, house and friends, but now there is no one left.”

Ahmed al-Jamal prays at the grave of his 11-year-old son Bassam in Rafah.  (NBC News)Ahmed al-Jamal prays at the grave of his 11-year-old son Bassam in Rafah.  (NBC News)

Ahmed al-Jamal prays at the grave of his 11-year-old son Bassam in Rafah. (NBC News)

Nearby, people flocked to a cemetery to pay their respects to deceased relatives, an Eid tradition.

‘May God have mercy on him. He woke up in the morning and went to the mosque for Eid prayers with the children,” Ahmed al-Jamal said at the grave of his 11-year-old son, Bassam, who he said was killed in Israeli shelling. last month.

‘I don’t feel like it’s Eid. It’s just an ordinary day,” he added, looking at the single breeze block that marked his son’s burial site.

Others have failed to commemorate deaths with dignity. With mortuaries overloaded, some of the dead have been buried in mass graves without any identification, deprived of their traditional burial rites.

Back in the dystopian wasteland of Khan Younis, Najjar said she was determined that fate would not befall her relatives.

“I won’t rest until I bury them all, bone by bone,” she said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

- Advertisement -
RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments