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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti | World news | The Guardian

Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti | World news | The Guardian

Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti

Ahmed Owedat also found soldiers had thrown his TVs, fridge, and computers from upstairs windows and slashed furniture

Graffiti in Palestinian's home
Some of the graffiti Ahmed Owedat found on returning to his home in the town of Burij. Photograph: Harriet Sherwood

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli
soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an
overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his
possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing
troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on
his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled
with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words "Fuck Hamas" had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. "Burn Gaza down" and "Good Arab = dead Arab" were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

have scrubbed the floors three times today and three times yesterday,"
said Owedat, 52, as he surveyed the damage, which included four
televisions, a fridge, a clock and several computers tossed out of
windows, shredded curtains and slashed soft furnishings.

A handful
of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the
occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in
four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to
the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the
walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures
that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

have no money to fix this," he said, claiming that his life savings of
$10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could
be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a
wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. "Every house between here and there has been destroyed."

family of 13 fled their home after seeing troops and tanks advancing at
1am on 20 July, two days into the Israeli ground invasion. Several
times, during the short-lived ceasefires in the following two weeks,
they attempted to return only to find Israeli troops in their home
instructing them to keep away.

The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.

an hour's drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun
girls' school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation.
Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks
were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened
bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy
drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

too, said the school's caretaker, Fayez, who didn't want to give his
full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and
urinated in water bottles. "You will be fucked here" and "Don't forget
it's time for you to die" were chalked in English on blackboards.

Hamas had struck back. After the troops pulled out, counter-graffiti
was sprayed on the walls, referring to Hamas's militant wing, Qassam
brigades. "Qassam's army will crush you – dogs" and "Israel will be

The 1,250 pupils at the school will, it is hoped, never
see either set of venomous messages. Workers began the marathon cleanup
operation this week but, said Fayez, "it will take at least a month to
fix". The academic year is due to begin in a little over two weeks.

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