Three young children are shown looking off to a room damaged by rocket attack.

PHOTOS: Shattered rooms show Gaza war's toll on children

The 11-day war between Israel and Hamas featured the same waves of predawn Israeli airstrikes, the same continuous rocket fire out of the impoverished Gaza Strip, and the same lopsided casualty toll, with Palestinians making up the vast majority of the more than 250 killed. And like past wars between Israel and Hamas, it took a heavy toll on children.

Batul Al-Masri, 5, and her siblings stand for a portrait in their bedroom that was damaged when an airstrike destroyed a nearby building prior to a cease-fire that halted an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

The latest Gaza war is over, but its wreckage still litters the purple bedroom of 9-year-old Shrouq al-Masri and her 4-year-old sister, Razan.

Their toys are coated with gray dust, the ceiling is bent and buckled, and the cracks in the walls slice through the cartoons that decorated them.

Two young girls are shown in a room with a smurf cartoon on the wall and a damaged ceiling.

Suroq Al-Masri, 9, and her sister Razan, 4, stand for a portrait in their bedroom that was severely damaged when an airstrike destroyed a neighboring building, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

The two girls survived the early morning airstrike that destroyed a nearby building on May 19, two days before a cease-fire ended the war. But like so many children in Gaza, they will carry the memory of its horrors and devastation.

The 11-day war was the fourth fought between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007. It featured the same waves of predawn Israeli airstrikes, the same continuous rocket fire out of the impoverished territory, and the same lopsided casualty toll, with Palestinians making up the vast majority of the more than 250 killed.

A young boy is shown standing with his hand on a blanked and seen through a window.

Anas Alhaj Ahmed, 4, stands for a portrait in his bedroom that was damaged when an airstrike destroyed a nearby building, in Maghazi, Gaza Strip, May 27, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

And like the others, it took a heavy toll on children. At least 66 Palestinian children were killed, as well as a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl on the Israeli side. Countless more were awakened in the night by explosions.

In the Maghazi refugee camp in southern Gaza, an airstrike tore the roof off the bedroom that 4-year-old Anas Alhajahmed shared with his sister and left the floor covered in shattered glass. They survived as well.

A young person stands in the bombed hole where a wall once stood.

Mahmoud Al-Masri, 14, stands for a portrait in his damaged bedroom in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

It was the first war in his short life, but most Gazans vividly recall the others — including the most devastating, in 2014, which lasted several weeks. Even adolescents can point out homes destroyed in previous rounds of fighting.

A young girl sits on a dresser in a room strewn items scattered because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Amal Nassir, 11, sits for a portrait in her war-damaged bedroom in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

Israel blames the destruction on Hamas, which fires imprecise rockets from civilian areas in Gaza in the general direction of civilian areas in Israel. The military says it makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas says it is fighting a decades-old military occupation, using the only weapons it has against a far superior military power. It says 80 militants were among those killed.

A young boy leans on a fallen and broken wooden beam.

Mohammad Ismail, 4, sits for a portrait in his damaged bedroom in Maghazi, Gaza Strip,  May 27, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

Both sides say they have no choice, and no one expects this war to be the last. Meanwhile, the intractable conflict takes its toll on those with the least capacity to understand its cruel logic.

Two young boys are shown standing in a damaged door frame.

Awny Abed, 6, left, and his brother Salem, 5, stand for a portrait in their damaged bedroom, in Maghazi, Gaza Strip, May 27, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

Mahmoud Al-Masri, 14, shared his room with six brothers. At 3 a.m., his family scrambled out of the building after the Israeli military warned them to evacuate. He didn't think he would make it. The next morning, he was hesitant to return.

"I was afraid that after we returned we would be killed by a drone in another attack," he said.

A young man stands in a room with two large holes in the walls.

Issat Al-Masri, 18, stands in his bedroom was damaged by shelling in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

The survivors have even more hardship ahead as they struggle to rebuild. Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Unemployment hovers around 50%.

A young boy is shown seated next to a television and a damaged door in the near ground.

Abu Amsha, 6, sits for a portrait in his war-damaged bedroom, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

Israel says the closure is needed to keep Hamas from re-arming, while the Palestinians and rights groups view it as a form of collective punishment.

Either way, it will be a long time before the children whose bedrooms were shattered return to somewhere that feels like home.

Two teenage boys sit in a room with holes in the cealing.

Yassin Sabit, 16, center, and his brother Saif, 14, sit for a portrait in their bedroom that was damaged by shelling, in Maghazi, Gaza Strip, May 27, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

A young boy sits on a bed in a room with pink and blue painted walls and a large hole in the wall.

Ibrahim Al-Masri, 10, sits for a portrait in his bedroom that was damaged when an airstrike destroyed the neighboring building in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021.

Credit:

John Minchillo/AP

By John Minchillo/AP

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