Suzan Matar watches as the building that houses her eight-year-old business breaks down live on television.
It was one of the many beacon structures targeted by Israeli fighter jets during its 11-day attack on the besieged Gaza Strip. The nine-story al-Johara tower in the heart of Gaza City was hit by several missiles on May 12. It housed the Matar law firm, which was formerly an apartment owned by her father.
The 34-year-old was at home watching the news when she found out the building had been targeted.
“Finding it out consumed me. I felt helpless, “Matar told Al Jazeera, crying. “I could not stop it. I could not tell them, please just leave my office, please do nothing to harm it. It was my baby. ”
The beginning of her business was a ‘lifelong dream’. On a typical day, Matar and her colleagues would spend up to 12 hours in the office, which she described as a ‘second home’.
She had many of her personal belongings in the office, including several awards, photos of her fiancé, and gifts from her friends.
It was all destroyed in the blink of an eye. But what was left, she said, was “endless memories engraved in my heart.”
Matar knows that rebuilding her business will not be easy. Like many others, she wonders how much will be brought back while Gaza remains under siege. More importantly, she asks, who will pay for all the damage.
Israel’s bombing killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children. Wreckage and rubble surround temporary camps across Gaza, which has been under a crippling siege since 2007.
The attacks also destroyed 1,800 housing units now unfit for housing, and partially destroyed at least another 14,300 housing units, forcing tens of thousands of Palestinians to take refuge in United Nations-run schools.
Some 74 public buildings, including local municipalities, were also destroyed, according to figures released by the information ministry run by Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip.