HomeDa Birds NewsLive Updates: Strikes in Gaza and Air-Raid Sirens in Israel After Truce...

Live Updates: Strikes in Gaza and Air-Raid Sirens in Israel After Truce Expires

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When Alaa Abu Sunaima was imprisoned in Israel last year, the Gaza Strip was enjoying a period of relative calm. But by the time he was released, the area had been ravaged by a relentless series of Israeli airstrikes and a ground invasion.

Of the 240 Palestinian prisoners released so far in exchange for Israeli hostages held by Hamas, Mr. Abu Sunaima, 18, is the sole Gazan and the only person sent back to Gaza, based on information from lists released by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. His home is now inhabitable, severely damaged by bombing after his parents and siblings fled to Rafah.

Amidst the devastation, Mr. Abu Sunaima’s return this week, during a brief ceasefire that included his release, brought some joy. His family and friends greeted him with warm hugs.

Later, the temporary peace ended and Mr. Abu Sunaima was able to visit Shokat to assess the damage. His room was in shambles, with debris scattered all over. Parts of the roof had collapsed, exposing the house to the elements. Mr. Abu Sunaima was deeply affected by the extent of the destruction.

He found out that a friend, Ammar, around his age, had been killed.

Mr. Abu Sunaima was a high school student when he was arrested during a protest at the Israeli border in June 2022. According to data from the Israeli Justice Department, he was convicted of entering Israel without a permit and possessing weapons, ammunition, or dangerous explosive material, and sentenced to two years.

The Israeli list of 350 prisoners and detainees who could potentially be released under the hostage exchange deal included only five people from Gaza, and Mr. Abu Sunaima was one of them. The other four have not been released. The vast majority of the prisoners on the list were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israel frequently makes arrests. By contrast, Israeli forces were not openly operating in Gaza before Oct. 7.

While in prison, Mr. Abu Sunaima could initially contact his family once every two weeks, but visits became less frequent as time went on. He and his fellow prisoners learned about the swap of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages from a smuggled radio, but after the war began, conditions worsened. Guards beat the prisoners and confiscated the radio.

On Sunday morning, Mr. Abu Sunaima was told he would be moved, and he anticipated that he would be released. He was required to change into clothes from the Red Cross and was hit by a guard when he refused to undress. He then waited in a locked cell for about eight hours, without food or water. Mr. Abu Sunaima said he was made to sign a document, but he did not know what it said.

Now the Abu Sunaima family is living in a makeshift shelter in Rafah, where they fled at the start of the war. They are among the nearly 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million who are currently displaced, according to an estimate by the United Nations.

The territory is facing dire shortages of water, food, medicine, and fuel as Israel continues to impose tight restrictions on essential supplies. Aid groups describe the situation as a humanitarian crisis that is evolving into a public health disaster.

“We lack everything here,” the elder Mr. Abu Sunaima said.

He had learned from a friend on Sunday that Alaa’s name was on the list of those who would be released. He first went to look for him in Rafah, and then found him at a Red Cross center in Al Mawasi, a coastal area near Khan Younis.

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