“Before 7 October, everything was OK for me,” says Hussein*, 62, who lives in Gaza but had worked in Israel for 37 years before the current war in the Strip. “I would go to work in Ashdod. Sometimes I would sleep there, and sometimes I would return to Gaza to visit my family and stay with them.”
To make a living for his family, Hussein painted houses and worked in farms in Ashdod, a city in Israel about 35 to 40 kilometres north of Gaza.
“I was treated well, and I have a lot of Israeli friends,” he says. “The day before the 7 October attacks, I was drinking coffee with my best friend at the place where I lived. He’s Israeli, and I met him while buying vegetables in the market. I used to bring him and his family some fruits and vegetables from Gaza. Our families quickly became friends, too.”
But on 7 October everything changed for Hussein. “I was sleeping when my friend and another man entered my room and started beating me with sticks. They shouted, ‘Your people are killing us here and you are sleeping in our houses!’ They unleashed their dogs on me. They bit and ripped my stomach and torso.”