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Learning English - Words in the News
17 May, 2004 - Published 14:43 GMT
Rafah homes destruction
Rafah destruction
Destruction in Rafah

This week up to seventy Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah have been destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. Israel says that it has taken the action because the area is being used by Palestinian fighters to launch attacks on the Israeli army. This report from Alan Johnson:

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Where the bulldozers have done their work the destruction has been total. Where houses stood a few days ago, now there's just mounds of earth. There's barely a wall standing and Rafah is braced for more of the same.

I talked to a man named Hossam. He poured all his savings, ten-thousand dollars, into his flat. Now he may lose it. He believes his home could be one of the hundreds in Rafah that Israel has marked for destruction. Hossam's flat has already been hit by a tank shell. As we looked at the gaping hole torn in the side of his guest room, he pulled a piece of shrapnel from the wall.

Hossam's wife is pregnant and they have nowhere to go. He says he won't leave until the last moment. But he has moved out almost everything he owns. The television, clothes, carpets and furniture - it's all been stored with friends and relatives in different parts of town. In bare and echoing rooms, Hossam and his wife are waiting for the return of the bulldozers.

The Israelis would say that people like Hossam wouldn't have these problems if Palestinian fighters didn't repeatedly launch attacks on the army from houses on Rafah's fringes. But many ordinary people here regard the demolitions as a kind of collective punishment.

Alan Johnson, BBC

Listen to the words

large digging machines

100 per cent



to put something into something else without restraint

metal parts of an exploded bomb

expecting a baby



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