Israeli soldiers in central Gaza on Monday, photographed during an escorted tour with the Israeli military.Credit…Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times
For a few fleeting moments, the two-story house on the edge of Bureij, a ruined town in central Gaza, still felt like a Palestinian home.
Bottles of nail polish, perfume and hair gel stood untouched on a shelf. A collection of fridge magnets decorated the frame of a mirror. Through a window, one could see laundry, hanging from a neighbor’s washing line, swaying in the gentle breeze.
But despite the trappings of home, the house now has a new function — as a makeshift Israeli military barracks.
Since Israeli ground forces recently fought their way into this part of central Gaza, a unit from the military’s 188th Brigade has taken over the building, using it as a dormitory, storeroom and lookout point.
On Monday, some soldiers were awaiting orders in the ground-floor living room, or standing watch on the terrace above. One bedroom was crowded with the soldiers’ backpacks and equipment.
The house’s walls were marred with Hebrew graffiti. “The people of Israel,” read one message, written in black spray paint.
The people of Gaza were nowhere in sight.
The house was emblematic of the ruined wasteland that two journalists for The New York Times witnessed on a three-hour journey with Israeli soldiers through Gaza on Monday morning.