Zeitoun Becomes a Symbol

A month ago, when Abdel Al-Arkan looked out of his living room window, he saw groves of olive and orange trees stretching toward the Israeli border, their branches sagging with fruit.

Al-Arkan's window is gone now, shattered by an Israeli air strike. The trees are gone, too, torn up by tank treads, replaced by fields of reddish dirt. When he peers through the shards, Al-Arkan, 31, sees the post-apocalyptic wreckage of his neighbors' homes, reduced to tangled heaps of concrete and re-bar.

And he realizes that his neighbors lost even more than he did. They lost everything.

Twenty-nine members of the Samouni family were killed during the three-week Israeli offensive. Most of them died in the wreckage of their home which, Al-Arkan, several neighbors and two surviving Samouni family members said, was hit with repeated Israeli air strikes in the first part of the offensive which ended with a tenuous truce between Israel and Hamas.

"I never imagined they would do this here," he said, working a set of worry beads through his fingers.

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