Gaza City – Ibrahim Abu Rish feels fresh, thanks to a barber at al-Shifa Hospital who gave him a haircut.
The civil defence rescuer, who has been doing this job for 15 years, has not been home in more than a month.
“My home is in Karameh, and the whole neighbourhood got destroyed,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to see my wife and children yet, who are displaced. My wife calls me many times a day, but I can’t answer her every time.”
Abu Rish, 35, has witnessed things over the past month that are worse than anything he could have imagined. The Israeli bombardment of the blockaded Gaza Strip has killed more than 10,500 Palestinians since October 7, most are women and children. Israeli air raids have targeted homes, residential blocks, entire neighbourhoods, schools, mosques, churches and hospitals.
“This war has no mercy,” Abu Rish said. “We cannot guarantee our own safety.”
At least seven rescue workers have been killed.
Abu Rish’s colleague Mohammed al-Ghaleez and five other civilians were killed in an Israeli air attack on the al-Tuffah police station on Salah al-Din Street in Gaza City.
“The hardest thing I’ve seen is the torn bodies of children, the children under the rubble who we can’t reach,” Abu Rish said. “Bodies litter the streets. The smell of this city is one of rotting, decomposing bodies.”
He has also seen people desperate for water drinking from the hoses the civil defence uses to extinguish fires.
More than 2,660 people are missing under the rubble, including 1,350 children.