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Hamas standing, Gaza flattened

world Updated: Jan 21, 2009 13:02 IST

Reuters
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Palestinian families returned to their homes in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday but many found there was nothing recognisable left standing.

Women and children gazed around in dismay as they came in sight of Salatin, trundling slowly along on overloaded donkey carts or packed into decrepit cars, over roads ripped up by Israeli tanks and explosions.

There was a fierce battle here for high ground overlooking the city of Gaza after Israel launched a ground offensive 16 days ago against Hamas Islamists.

Houses left and right were blasted by tank and heavy machine-gun fire. Some were pancaked by bombs from the F-16s of the Israeli airforce.

A dazed man said he simply could not find his house. “The Israelis told us to leave our homes up here. They said it would be dangerous. Hamas fighters came and told us the same,” said Nabil Sultan.

Ignoring the devastation, Hamas has declared victory. One Gaza newspaper cartoon on Tuesday depicted a hand thrust up from twisted ruins, flashing a “V” for Victory sign.