GAZA CITY, Palestine: Shop owners in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah were left in disbelief one day after Israeli shelling completely destroyed the city’s only shopping mall. “We never expected that the mall would be shelled,” Zuhai Abu Taha, who owned several apparel stores in the shopping center, told Anadolu Agency Sunday.
The five-story building was leveled to the ground Saturday night by a barrage of rockets fired by Israeli warplanes.
Abu Taha, 52, said he lost $700,000 after his shops and merchandise were destroyed in the attack.
The material damage to the mall in southern Rafah amounted to $20 million, according to a statement by the city’s local authority.
“This mall was Rafah’s landmark,” Abu Taha said. “The city will be totally paralyzed now that it was destroyed.”
Another shop owner, Radwan al-Tawil, said he suffered a $200,000 loss after his print shop which he owned for 11 years was destroyed in the Israeli strike. “I never expected that my shop would be targeted by Israel,” Tawil, 57, said.
The top floor of the Rafah shopping center was the target of an Israeli strike earlier during the offensive, which coincided with the Ramadan and Eid holiday as well as the new school year.
“I was waiting for the war to end so I could sell all the merchandise I bought on credit ahead of the Eid and the school year,” Abu Taha said.
He added, however, that his losses would not deter him from seeing through Israel’s “pressure.”
“Israel is targeting [Gazans’] sources of income to turn them against the resistance,” he said. “But that would never happen.”