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Hatem al-Ghamri, the mayor of the Maghazi refugee camp, was killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza. (Photo: via Palestine Information Center)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

Hatem al-Ghamri, the mayor of the Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, was killed by an Israeli airstrike on April 9. He was an engineer by profession, and beloved by everyone. 

The Gaza Government media office slammed the strike as “a war crime that contravenes international laws that grant immunity and protection to civilian figures”.

According to the office, al-Ghamri was the head of an emergency committee dedicated to maintaining public order and civil control in Gaza.

Al-Ghamri is one of many civilian officers who were killed in Israel’s genocidal war against the besieged Gaza Strip. 

The Palestine Chronicle spoke with residents of the camp or displaced Palestinians who are currently living in Maghazi, to better understand the implications of Israeli actions and the reactions among the civilian population. 

He Helped Everybody

“The mayor of Maghazi, Engineer Hatem Al-Ghamri, was killed when Israeli occupation forces bombed a civilian building belonging to the municipality,” Mohammed al-Ayedi told The Palestine Chronicle.

“Since the first day of the war, the mayor has been working to provide relief services to tens of thousands of displaced people who sought refuge in the camp,” al-Ayedi continued. 

“He directly supervised the central emergency committee of the camp and continued to work diligently until the day of his martyrdom. Indeed, he was killed while fulfilling his mission providing relief to the displaced,” he added.

According to al-Ayedi, al-Ghamri was one of the most beloved people in the camp. 

“He was chosen unanimously by the residents to head the municipality. He was always available for everybody,” he said. 

Worked Tirelessly

The Maghazi camp, along with the area south of the Gaza Valley, was declared a ‘safe zone’ by the Israeli occupation. Therefore, thousands of people flocked to it seeking shelter from the deadly Israeli war.  

“Our house was bombed during the first days of the war, but the Al-Maghazi municipality, under the direct supervision of its mayor, worked to accommodate us in shelters and provided relief services,” Mohammed Abu Nasr told the Palestine Chronicle.

“Al-Ghamri worked tirelessly to aid people throughout the war,” he continued. 

“I saw him in bombarded areas, in shelters, supervising road repairs, sewage system maintenance, and ensuring water supply for citizens through all available means. He was a respectable man and the community is going to miss him.”

War-Torn – Gaza Families Separated in Israel’s Ongoing Genocide

Will Be Missed

Um Ashraf Abu Awad is a resident of the camp. When Israeli occupation forces invaded the central region of the Strip, she left with her family and headed to a displacement camp in Rafah. They returned a month later, only to find that the Maghazi camp had been devastated by Israeli forces. 

“We returned to an area we did not recognize,” Abu Awad told us. 

“These were not the homes we lived in, nor were these the familiar streets we knew. The occupation completely destroyed entire streets. The amount of destruction in the camp is indescribable,” she continued.

Amid chaos and destruction, however, one person provided a glimpse of hope. 

“The mayor was everywhere, in all the places designated for aiding the displaced in Al-Maghazi camp,” Abu Awad said.

“He was a beacon of activity and vitality, overseeing relief efforts day and night. He was very close to the people, he listened to them, trying to solve their problems, and attempting to provide their basic life necessities,,” she added.

According to Abu Awad, the Israeli occupation did not like the people’s affection for the mayor of Al-Maghazi, and the fact that he did not give up on his mission to serve the people of Gaza. 

“They bombed him while he was providing aid to the displaced people in the camp. He is another victim of Israel’s attack on all humanitarian workers in the Gaza Strip,” Abu Awad explained.

“We have lost more than half of the homes and infrastructure in Al-Maghazi camp, but we will rebuild them one day. However, we cannot compensate for the loss of our mayor,” she said. 

“We will miss him greatly, as will all the displaced and the grieving Palestinians in the camp.” 

Israel has killed numerous doctors, medics, civil defense workers, police officers, aid distribution volunteers, and others, all with the aim of destroying all aspects of life and recovery in Gaza. 

According to the United Nations, prior to the killing of the six internationals, Israel had already killed 196 humanitarian aid workers.

Moreover, according to an April 4 report by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has also targeted and killed 41 police officers while working with volunteers from various Gaza clans to help the UN refugee agency, UNRWA, distribute humanitarian aid. Even the members of the clans themselves were targeted in Israeli bombardments.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle in the Gaza Strip.

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