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Humans of Gaza: Saeed, Omar and Khorsheed Saqallah, three medic brothers

By Humaira Ahad

A white-washed house with a sprawling compound lined up with trees bearing orange and pink flowers. An expansive sea visible from the terrace of the beautiful house.

The picture of the house provides a glimpse into the idyllic lives of local inhabitants who spend beautiful evenings in the compound relishing the gentle breeze of the Mediterranean Sea.

This was the picture-perfect Saqallah home in the Sheikh Ejleen neighborhood of the southern besieged Gaza Strip before an Israeli airstrike destroyed the house, killing all its occupants.

Among those who lived in the house were Saed, Omar, and Khorsheed – three brothers with their families.

All of them were medics with three of them ophthalmologists and the fourth one an ENT specialist.

The family-owned the besieged Palestinian territory’s largest chain of private eye specialty clinics.

After October 7, as the Israeli forces started bombarding civilian neighborhoods in Gaza, the extended Saqallah family evacuated from the Tel El Hawa, an affluent area of the city thinking that the Saqallah home in Sheikh Ejleen in the southern part of the city was a safe abode to seek refuge.

The decision, however, proved disastrous for the family of Saqallahs.

On October 18, an Israeli airstrike targeted the residential compound, killing all those who had sought sanctuary in the house.

The regime bombarded the house twice reducing it to rubble, eliminating the remaining members of the Saqallah family who had survived the first strike.

“I heard the terrifying sound of two missiles hitting the house, followed by another two shortly afterward,” Arafat, a neighbor of the Saqallahs, was quoted as saying.

All the people in the house, which included several generations of the Saqallahs, were killed, with ages ranging from a few months old to octogenarians. The death toll varies between 30 and 42.

A video shot by surviving family members who were in other parts of the city when the airstrike happened is being circulated on social media, which shows numerous bodies wrapped in white shrouds being lowered into a mass grave.

The brutal bombing by the Israeli regime has claimed approximately 12000 Palestinian lives in the last five weeks with more than 50 percent of the infrastructure totally damaged.

In a statement published last week, the media office of Gaza’s government said about 40,000 housing units in the besieged strip have been completely destroyed by the Israeli bombardment.

The estimated preliminary losses in the housing sector and infrastructure are estimated to be $2 billion each, the office revealed.

As per November 7 data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Palestinian government, the regime’s attacks have damaged at least 222,000 residential units, with more than 40,000 units destroyed.

The UN report added that 278 educational facilities, 270 healthcare facilities and 69 places of worship including mosques and churches were damaged.

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