Football goes on in the ruins…as does life in general.

The streets, once filled with laughter and joy, have turned into a place of shock. Women weep for their dead children, men search for their buried loved ones in the rubble, and children desperately search for food. In the midst of war, soccer brings joy and hope, if only for a moment. “In Gaza, soccer means ‘life’ amid the ongoing Israeli war,” Al Jazeera reported on June 6.

El Ooty, a 20-year-old medical student, is a Real Madrid fan. “Whenever I was home (before the war), I used to prepare drinks, chips, and popcorn and wait for the second half of the Champions League,” he said. “Now my house is a pile of rubble with all my memories of soccer buried.” Sondos Abu Nemer, 15, and her mother are avid soccer fans. Nemer has an Al Nasr jersey with the name of her favorite soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo. “The last time I watched an Al Nasr game was an exhibition match against Inter Miami on February 1,” Nemer recalls, “and I only watched a few minutes of the game on my phone because the internet was disconnected.” “When I don’t have internet access, I listen to the results on the radio,” he says, adding that he also listened to Palestine’s matches at the Asian Cup in Qatar. Palestine reached the round of 16 for the first time in its history, bringing joy to the people of Gaza.

Barcelona fan Bassel Abdul Jawad, 23, is a nurse. “I watched all of Barcelona’s games before the war,” he says, “and soccer is a distraction from the bombings and the brutal reality of war that never seems to stop.”

Hani Karmut is another Barcelona fan who moved to Rafah from the north after his home was raided by the Israeli army. He recalls October 27, a day before last year’s El Clasico. “I was counting down to the start of the game when my house was attacked,” he says, “and my cousins, who were Real Madrid fans and came to watch soccer with me, were killed in the bombing.”

“Those who have access to the internet, even for a short time, bring 토토 soccer news to the people in the tents,” Karmut said, adding, “Outside the tents, children are still kicking a ball despite the fear of hovering drones and bombs (pictured).”

March 7 marks five months since Israel launched a war in Gaza after Hamas attacked southern Israel. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 31,000 Palestinians, including 12,300 children, have been killed in Gaza since October 7th of last year. More than 8,000 remain missing, many trapped under rubble.

“Before the war, whenever there was a big soccer match, the streets would be deserted and cafes would be packed with fans,” Al Jazeera said, adding that “Gazans have kept their love of soccer alive amid the bloodshed, destruction and communication cuts.” “In Gaza, soccer has always been synonymous with life,” Al Jazeera added.

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