Gaza — The Gaza International Hotel was once a thriving business, hosting dozens of weddings and parties every year. Afaf Abu Jaber and her family had spent decades making it and the neighboring event space into an important part of the community that financially supported her, her husband, and her adult sons.
But during thebetween Israel and Hamas, an Israeli airstrike targeted the multi-story building next door to the Gaza International Hotel, which a local source says had housed some Hamas administrative offices, along with civilian apartments.
As warning of an imminent attack on the targeted building spread through the neighborhood, Afaf’s family had time to escape. But the airstrike on the adjacent building, which knocked it clear off its foundations, also destroyed her hotel — her only way of supporting her family.
“I don’t want to cry, but when I saw this, I’m very cried in my heart,” Afaf told CBS News.
She said she was in shock and unable to process what had happened to her family’s livelihood.
“I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I’m afraid for everything… Is it true? Is it true? I don’t know. Is it true or not?” she said, gesturing at the wreckage of her family business.
Hamas is the group that governs the Gaza Strip. It is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. After firing more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, killing 12 civilians, it has celebrated the recent cease-fire as a victory. The group believes the conflict has helped bolster its image as the defender of the Palestinian cause.
But for the people of Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes killed more than 240 people, including 66 children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the devastation does not seem like a victory. There’s been no change to the Israeli-backed blockade that makes it nearly impossible for Palestinians in Gaza to leave, and which has crippled their economy.
Israel is also claiming victory after the recent conflict, saying it killed over 200 Hamas militants.
But some Israelis, like Gonen Ben Itzhak, a former high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer credited with preventing dozens of Palestinian terrorist attacks, are skeptical.
Ben Itzhak blames embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for igniting the clashes that started the 11-day conflict as he fights for political survival.
“The goal is to keep his position,” Itzhak told CBS News.
He said that Hamas are war criminals, but that Israel’s actions are helping the group rather than hurting it, by fueling the desperation and anger of Palestinians.
“I think to myself, what would have happened if I would live in Gaza? I guess that at least I would go to the border and throw stones, maybe become a terrorist, because nobody gives me any hope. Nobody gives me any future,” Ben Itzhak told CBS News.