Photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Citrus farmer Yusuf Jilal Arafat stands in front of his home, in which his 5-year-old daughter Runan was killed when Israeli bombs struck this mostly agricultural area in the Al Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Arafat's wife, four months pregnant (not pictured), and 8-year-old son Jilal (left) were found alive in the rubble.
Yusuf holds a portrait of his 5-year-old daughter Runan, who was killed when Israeli bombs destroyed their house.
Yusuf's son Sami (age 4, left) plays with neighbors and siblings near another bomb crater in their neighborhood. Sami and his siblings now suffer from frequent nighttime panic attacks following the bombing of their neighborhood.
Fragments of Israeli bombs dropped on the Arafat family's house.
A poster of Jilal's 5-year-old daughter Runan hangs in the remains of the home where she was killed by Israeli air strikes.
Yusuf walks near the bomb crater littered with the remains of his home. His family is now living in the home of his father-in-law while they try to recover from their loss.
A neighboring citrus farmer, Othman Khalil Dader, describes how their orange groves were devastated by Israeli air strikes in which 10 bombs left massive craters, destroying many trees in addition to the Arafat family's home.
Oranges rot in the mud after being thrown to the ground by the shock of Israeli air strikes. Farmers fear that their crops may now be polluted as a result of the bombings, and even if they are not, people may not want to buy their produce due widespread fears of contamination.
Yusuf helps his 4-year-old son Sami walk among the remains of their home. With their groves devastated and fears of contamination prevalent, their future prospects are uncertain.
An excerpt of the poem, "Silence for Gaza", by Mahmoud Darwish:
Gaza is not the most beautiful city.
Its shore is not bluer than the shores of Arab cities.
Its oranges are not the most beautiful in the Mediterranean basin.
Gaza is not the richest city.
It is not the most elegant or the biggest, but it equals the history of an entire homeland,
because it is more ugly, impoverished, miserable, and vicious in the eyes of enemies.
Because it is the most capable, among us, of disturbing the enemy’s mood and his comfort.
Because it is his nightmare.
Because it is mined with oranges,
children without a childhood,
old men without old age
and women without desires.
Because of all this it is the most beautiful,
the purest and richest among us
and the one most worthy of love.
We do injustice to Gaza when we look for its poems,
so let us not disfigure Gaza’s beauty.
What is most beautiful in it is that it is devoid of poetry
at a time when we tried to triumph over the enemy with poems,
so we believed ourselves and were overjoyed to see the enemy letting us sing.
We let him triumph, then when we dried our lips of poems
we saw that the enemy had finished building cities, forts and streets.
We do injustice to Gaza when we turn it into a myth,
because we will hate it when we discover
that it is no more than a small poor city that resists.