Fatima Shbair Associated Press Palestinian workers who were in Israel were sent back to the Gaza Strip at the Karem Abou Salem crossing point (called Kerem Shalom on the Israeli side).
It’s an endless stream of exhausted men. They arrive in small groups, haggard. Some fall to their knees with fatigue and all want to show the scars of their detention in Israel: tortured wrists, numbers tied to their ankles.
On Friday, Israel began bringing back thousands of Gazans, who came to work on its soil before October 7, in the small Palestinian territory under Israeli bombs. Some say they don't know if they still have a family or a home there.
“We've been in prison for 25 days and today they brought us here, we don't know everything that is happening in Gaza, we have no idea of the situation,” Nidal Abed told AFP, wearing a black t-shirt.
The situation he mentions and which began almost a month ago now, is the war, triggered on October 7 by a bloody attack by Hamas, in power in Gaza, which left more than 1,400 dead in Israel according to the authorities.
Since then, Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip, where some 2.4 million Palestinians are crowded together, besieged and deprived of much of their drinking water, electricity and, more and more food. More than 9,227 people were killed there, most of them civilians in Israeli bombings, according to the Hamas health ministry.
Three days after the Hamas attack, Israel canceled the 18,500 work permits issued to Palestinians in Gaza.
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“Die at any moment”
At the Karem Abou Salem crossing point (called Kerem Shalom on the Israeli side), these ghosts parade. None took any belongings, some were barely able to put on a coat.
Yasser Mostafa, for his part, put a vest over his sweater when he was embarked in the first days of the war, so that he was in Israel.
“The police came to our house and took us away,” the man told AFP, his face drawn.
“They put us in a camp that wouldn't even be decent enough for animals,” he says, and “they tortured us with electricity, they set dogs on us.”
< p>A little further on, several men show their hands with still gaping wounds and their ankles girded with blue plastic bracelets. “061962”, we can read on one, “062030” on another.
A man shows his wrists which still bear the marks of cuts, traces of blows and restraint, says- it.
Ramadan al-Issaoui says he spent “23 days in Ofer”, an Israeli prison in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel for more than 50 years.
“I was in a detention center with hundreds of detainees,” he told AFP, his voice trembling. “We told ourselves that we could die at any moment. We were given just enough to eat and drink to survive, we knew nothing about the outside world. »
“Psychologically we are destroyed: we do not know if our families are alive or dead and if at least we had been here in the war, we could have died alongside our children,” he said, visibly struggling to speak, the front dripping with sweat.
As he walks towards the interior of the ravaged Gaza Strip to join his family, whom he left weeks ago, Sabri Fayez says he has just come out of a “horror film.”
“It was an endless horror film that played over and over again: intelligence, interrogations, dogs unleashed on us, machine guns, so that we are only workers, we care about nothing other than earning our living,” he says, waving his hands in front of his emaciated face.
“Each time minute, we were praying to die and end it,” assures the man with a tired face.
Behind him, new waves arrive. And in front, some men perched on a cart driven by a horse go a little deeper into the Gaza Strip where the sound of explosions is incessant.