In Gaza, no one feels safe

By Ben Lynfield, December 31, 2008
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Gaza residents suffering from the bombardment

Gaza residents suffering from the bombardment

Shaken by the ferocity of Israel’s bombardments, Gaza Strip residents said that they felt nowhere was safe as they experienced “the scariest and worst time” they could remember.

Gaza City economic consultant Sami Abdul Shafi said he was spending his time trying to write about conditions which he said were the worst since the Israeli occupation in 1967.

“I can’t write as coherently as usual because I have to jump off my seat when there are huge explosions,” he said. “You hear the explosion and then you feel a vacuum. It all happens in a split second. No matter where you go you’ll be hit by the pressure. Air impacts your body — you feel as though a ghost or physical force is hitting you. On several occasions the air pressure has shut my laptop off.”

He said that despite the cold winter weather, he and other Gaza residents had to open all their windows to prevent them being shattered.

He said that during the one time he did venture out, “the street was completely dark and you could hear a pin drop, but then I heard four or five explosions. It was the bombing of the intelligence building north of Gaza.”

Mr Abdul Shafi added: “This is easily the scariest and worst time ever.

“I believe Israel does not want to deliberately target the civilian population but it is causing great collateral damage to all the basic necessities of civilian life.”

He termed the bombing of the Islamic University on Monday “very worrying because this is targeting the ability of Palestinians to educate themselves.

“Some of the best and brightest open minded young graduates come from the Islamic University, an educational institution accredited world-wide, a decent educational institution. It is very worrying that the attacks are extending to such targets.”

Asked whether the attacks were turning people against Hamas, Mr Abdul Shafi said: “People inside Gaza are not blaming anyone as such. They are trying to withstand what they see as massive Israeli aggression. They are not thinking of Fatah or Hamas, just of how unspeakable it is.”

In Beit Hanoun, near the border with Israel, Raed al-Atamneh also said that the attacks were not turning people against Hamas.

“People hate the Israelis, they have killed such a big number and nobody is safe, not Hamas and not civilians. I know a woman from Beit Hanoun who was killed, a mother with ten kids. She was walking close to a place that was attacked.”

Meanwhile, he said, his own family was traumatised. “All of my kids are staying in one room, they are all afraid. They say father, don’t leave us alone,” he said. “My windows and those of all my neighbours have been destroyed by the F-16 attacks.

“Is it safe in my house? No. Israel attacked us with 60 planes. May God take care of us.”

    Last updated: 4:08pm, December 31 2008