Rimal, once the most sophisticated and safest place in Gaza City, is in ruins. The upscale neighborhood of the capital of the Palestinian territory was hit by Israeli attacks, amid the country’s war with Hamas, which forced a large part of its residents to leave.
With its boulevards, squares and houses of a much higher standard than the general poverty situation in Gaza, Rimal was the target of intense bombardment in the Israeli offensive of October 10, in which more than 200 points in the territory were attacked by “dozens of fighter jets” during the early hours of the morning.
A BBC report brought the testimony of a resident of Rimal. Dina Faisal, 39, exposed images of the house where she lived with her mother, father, sister and two nephews before and after the attacks. Previously with a colorful garden in front, the property was reduced to ashes.
“We thought we were safe at home, but suddenly the windows broke, the doors slammed and flew,” Dina told the British outlet. “Nowhere is safe in Gaza.”
The Associated Press agency states that Rimal had already been attacked in the 2021 offensive, but never with the intensity of the current conflict. Israel’s bombs destroyed apartments for the city’s upper classes, mosques, university buildings and company offices — such as that of Paltel, Gaza’s main telecommunications company.
“Israel destroyed the center of everything,” Palestinian businessman Ali al-Hiyak told the American agency. “This is the space of our public life, our community.”
Located 3 km west of the center of Gaza City, Rimal is a coastal neighborhood where the elite of the population, middle and upper class citizens, live. The space is bordered by two of the city’s main avenues, the coastal Ahmad Orabi and Omar Mukhtar, a boulevard that was partially destroyed.
In addition to the residential area, the district is home to hospitals, hotels, Gaza’s best-known restaurants, clubs, squares and shopping malls. This is where the city’s port, headquarters of the Palestinian Naval Police, is located.
Rimal also houses Gaza City’s main government buildings, including ministries, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and embassies from several countries. The Parliament of the Palestinian National Authority is also located in the neighborhood.
An American medical student who lived in Gaza told the Financial Times that Rimal was a “vibrant” area. “Historically, it’s a rich space, with all the fancy things. It’s convenient, it’s close to everything.”
The newspaper states that Rimal was a kind of oasis in a territory where more than half the population lives in poverty, after a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007. It is the neighborhood where people go to meet friends, go to a cafe and have fun.
According to the Israeli government, Rimal became a target for bringing together Hamas infrastructure, such as headquarters, operational control centers, weapons storage spaces and a branch of the National Islamic Bank, an institution that would have helped finance the attacks.
A person who lives in the neighborhood told the Financial Times that they felt safe there. After the attacks, the family went to live in another area with their uncles. But, if possible, they want to live with Rimal again.
Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for the Gaza Interior Ministry, said the destruction was so great that “there will be nothing left to rebuild.” “It will be impossible to live here.”