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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Israeli withdrawal leaves trail of debris
By Alan Johnston
BBC correspondent in Gaza

The Israelis held the north side of the Brazil neighbourhood of the Rafah refugee camp for just a day, but what they have done will be remembered there for many years.

A Palestinian boy and his mother sit in the rubble of their house in the Brazil section of the Rafah refugee camp

A large olive orchard has been destroyed. There is not a tree left standing and every street around it has been churned up by the tanks.

There is no tarmac now, you walk along mounds of earth and rubble and many buildings have been damaged by the heavy armour as it has manoeuvred up and down the roads.

Shops have had their fronts sheered off and sometimes you find houses that have clearly been deliberately destroyed.

Israel says that it only demolishes a home when it is convinced that it has been used by militants.

No warning

The army says it targets those places from which it is attacked or from which tunnels are dug to smuggle weapons in from nearby Egyptian territory.

But a medical worker called Subhi insists that he is mystified as to why the bulldozers came for his father's home in the middle of the night.

Subhi says there was no warning. He only had minutes to rescue his father who is in his 90s and carry him across the street. Subhi's father's wheelchair is still in the rubble.

And just around the corner the only zoo on the Gaza Strip has been ruined.

Most of the nearly 80 animals have either escaped or been killed.

The ostrich and the peacock are dead in the rubble, but somewhere in Rafah there is a kangaroo on the loose.




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