Three months have passed since the ceasefire in Gaza was announced. The UN estimates that over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed during the summer hostilities, affecting more than 600,000 people. And though the slow pace of reconstruction is discouraging, families are moving back into their homes, trying to find normality in neighborhoods of ruins.

Shejaiya, in the east of Gaza City, was hit particularly hard when the ground invasion began. Photographer Kyrre Lien and I met Modi Hasani’s family there three weeks after Israel stopped its military operations. Residents said they were warned in advance through pre-recorded phone messages, but not everyone managed to escape. 78 people were killed within a few hours on July 20th. Among the victims were 17 Palestinian children and 14 women, along with 13 Israeli soldiers.

Secret tunnels connect this particular area of Gaza to Israel, making it prone to attacks. According to the Israeli military, hundreds of rockets were also being fired from here. Modi Hasani was lucky; his one-year-old daughter survived the attack. But the family home was severely damaged. The living room was turned into a pile of rocks and they have no water, sewage or electricity. “Where else should we go?” Hasani told us. “This is our home. I thank Allah that we can stay here.”

For a week, Kyrre photographed people with an old Russian panoramic camera named Horizont, creating family portraits in these surreal surroundings and showing that life continues, even among the ruins.

Text from story in Road And Kingdoms.

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View the whole series here. 

Sunrise over Shijaiyeh in eastern Gaza. This area was one of the most affected of the ground invasion from Israeli forces in July 2014.

Sunrise over Shijaiyeh in eastern Gaza. This area was one of the most affected of the ground invasion from Israeli forces in July 2014.

- I don't hate Israelis. Why should I? They are my friends, and I can call them whenever I need help, says Jamal Isla.  He worked as a salesman in Israel for 40 years, before the blockade ended his business.  Now is his three story house completely destroyed. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

– I don’t hate Israelis. Why should I? They are my friends, and I can call them whenever I need help, says Jamal Isla.
He worked as a salesman in Israel for 40 years, before the blockade ended his business.
Now is his three story house completely destroyed.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Ziad Abu Assar boils coffee on a fire in the ruins of what was once a garage. His home is completely destroyed, so he lives in an apartment with his family in Gaza City. Now, he and his kids spend the days in the ruins. He hopes that inspectors soon will visit your Shejaiya so he can get information about when and how the house can be rebuilt. When we were in the neighbourhood in mid-September, UN personnel could not come to the area because it was not properly cleared of unexploded bombs. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Ziad Abu Assar boils coffee on a fire in the ruins of what was once a garage. His home is completely destroyed, so he lives in an apartment with his family in Gaza City. Now, he and his kids spend the days in the ruins. He hopes that inspectors soon will visit your Shejaiya so he can get information about when and how the house can be rebuilt. When we were in the neighbourhood in mid-September, UN personnel could not come to the area because it was not properly cleared of unexploded bombs.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

- We don't have water or electricity. Every meal we cook on fire outside, says Rames Houssou.  He lives with his family of 22 people in a collapsed building in Sha'af. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

– We don’t have water or electricity. Every meal we cook on fire outside, says Rames Houssou.
He lives with his family of 22 people in a collapsed building in Sha’af.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

When they heard the explosions, Imen ran over to her big brother Mahmoud. She woke him up, and screamed that they had to run away.  Outside there was an inferno of explosions, bangs and flames. The pigeons in the garden fled and the  chickens were killed by smoke and dust. But the whole family survived. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

When they heard the explosions, Imen ran over to her big brother Mahmoud. She woke him up, and screamed that they had to run away.
Outside there was an inferno of explosions, bangs and flames. The pigeons in the garden fled and the
chickens were killed by smoke and dust. But the whole family survived.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien