Gaza City – Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in a campaign to clean up the destruction wrought by Israeli bombing during its 11-day offensive.
Under the slogan “We will rebuild it”, volunteers began clearing the rubble of the site of what was once the Shorouq building – one of the oldest skyscrapers in Gaza City that was razed to the ground by the Israeli army.
Ahmad Murtaja, who came with his family and friends, said he had joined the campaign to “bring life back to the streets which have witnessed so much destruction in 11 days of war”.
“It is also a way to heal the wounds of what we have witnessed and to rebuild society,” he said.
The cleanup focused on the upscale neighborhood of Rimal – which was heavily targeted by Israeli artillery shelling and air raids – and included al-Wehda Street, where 42 people were killed in a single day.
Hosny Mohanna, the campaign spokesman, told Al Jazeera that at least 3,000 people have come forward to help the effort, which is mainly to eliminate the remnants of “Israeli aggression.”
“The participation and enthusiasm that we have seen is a testament to the resilience of our people,” he said.
Ghada Ibrahim, who heard about the campaign on social media, told Al Jazeera: “By cleaning the streets together, it is a sign that there is still hope in Gaza.”
‘We deserve to live’
The campaign, which began on Sunday, is expected to continue for a week and will travel through neighborhoods shelled by the IDF.
According to the Gaza Ministry of Public Works and Housing, at least five high-rise buildings, 74 government facilities and 33 media institutions were destroyed. In addition, 1,800 homes were destroyed.
At least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, were killed in the recent offensive, and more than 1,900 others were injured. In Israel, 12 people died, including three foreign workers.
“We want to show the world that Gaza is worth it and that we deserve to live,” said Mohammed Abu Rujeila, a volunteer.
“No matter how many times the Israeli occupation destroys, we will always be there to rebuild, each time even more than the previous one.”