Canadian tech company among civilian buildings hit by Israeli air strikes in Gaza

Open Screenplay’s satellite office was damaged in the bombing

The Gazi Shawwa building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza city housed the satellite offices of Canadian tech startup Open Screenplay. Courtesy of Open Screenplay
The Gazi Shawwa building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza city housed the satellite offices of Canadian tech startup Open Screenplay. Courtesy of Open Screenplay

During the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, an Israeli bomb hit the top two floors of the Gazi Shawwa building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza city, which housed the local offices of Canadian tech start-up Open Screenplay.

Four civilians were killed in the May 17 attack, said Khaled Sabawi, founder and chief executive of Open Screenplay, though none of the firm's employees were in the building that day.

“It was suddenly bombed, but these are the stories we keep on hearing everywhere in Gaza," Open Screenplay's founder and chief executive Khaled Sabawi told The National.

“Many regular civilian residential and office buildings were hit by Israel.”

Mr Sabawi, a Palestinian Canadian from Toronto, founded Open Screenplay in January 2019.

The company, whose headquarters are in Canada, provides an online platform that connects writers and storytellers with businesses.

They have a team of nine developers in Gaza who help keep the platform running.

“These developers are extremely talented, very hard working and it’s been a pleasure to work with them,” Mr Sabawi said.

The Gazi Shawwa building contained an insurance company, a bank, a charity and Open Screenplay's satellite offices.

It was hit amid 11 days of conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas in the most significant fighting since 2014.

Israel pummelled Gaza with powerful air strikes that reshaped the area's skyline. The military said the strikes targeted Hamas militants and infrastructure but as the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, the scope and scale of the destruction has become clearer.

More than 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, were killed in Gaza. In Israel, 10 people, including two children, were killed by Hamas rockets.

In Gaza, 258 homes were destroyed and 760 housing units severely damaged. Several towers in the densely populated area were levelled.

Mr Sabawi said the his team lost an important space that served as a respite from life in Gaza.

“That office for them was really a kind of escape from that harsh reality, so they really loved to go there,” Mr Sabawi explained.

Palestinians and human rights activists have described Israel’s bombing of Gaza as “indiscriminate”.

Air strikes damaged 24 medical facilities, including the only laboratory where Covid-19 tests were performed. One of Gaza’s leading doctors in the fight against Covid-19, Ayman Abu Ouf, was also killed in an air strike.

On May 15, Israel targeted a building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets.

Israel said the building housed Hamas military infrastructure but it has yet to publicly disclose any evidence supporting the claim.

As Gazans continue to survey the damage from the 11 day conflict, Mr Sabawi said he will rebuild Open Screenplay’s offices as soon as possible.

Published: May 25, 2021 10:34 PM

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