A little more than two weeks since the start of the permanent truce in the Gaza Strip, over 110 thousand people are still homeless. The view through the rubble and is apocalyptic. But Caritas and international workers are working at full capacity to help with immediate emergencies of the population and also to begin reconstruction.
Hope for Gaza’s future is also embodied by the figure of Youseph, 16, who was hit by a missile during the bombings. The shrapnel injured him on other parts of his body, while he was on the roof of his house.
“I went out at six thirty in the morning to put water into the tank. I got to the tank and the bombing began. The tank was full of water. The water softened the blow. After being shot, I saw the whole house full of shrapnel and I fainted. I woke up and they had transported me by car to the hospital. I went into the hospital and the next day I woke up in intensive care.
Two hours after I got hit, my house was bombed. Everyone at home fled, and in the afternoon, the house next door was bombed. That same evening, my uncle’s house, which is also near ours was bombed. They destroyed our entire area in a single day.”
Youseph speaks like an adult and with a confident tone. But he is just a teenager, and he has had to come to terms with a situation in which many are forced to grow up too quickly. His personal and family nightmare began three days before his accident, when his father stepped out of the house, never to return again.
“He said: ‘I am a man of honor and I will remain a man of honor.’ And he went outside. I barely had enough time to get to him, and I heard a bang and I realized that surely something had happened. They told me: ‘Go call your uncle.’ Then I ran to look for my father, but I couldn’t find him. At the end I saw that he was lying on the ground. We took him to the hospital and they said it was a case of average severity. After ten minutes they said he had a piece of shrapnel in his heart and ten minutes later they said he was dead.”
Today Youseph was hospitalized at Saint Joseph’s in Jerusalem, a center that since the conflict has taken in thirty wounded people from Gaza. While waiting for a full physical recovery, the teenager is in recovery after being immediately operated on. But still, he has a huge desire to return home.
“I want to get treated and go back home to Gaza. I’m bored here.”
Along with the young man, his uncle is accompanying and taking care of Youseph. He, too, since the beginning of the truce, has been wanting to return to Gaza. And he hopes that things can change for the better for his people.
“My desire is to live in peace and freedom, like in all countries of the world. Going out, going around. Everything is closed: from the earth, to the sea, to the sky. We cannot move, we cannot leave.”
But the more genuine and courageous image from Gaza today lies in the words of Youseph, who despite the tragedy, has plans for his future, like all boys his age.
“I think like everyone thinks … to be part of the resistance, to become a professor or a doctor.”