Fire rises from a builing during an explosion following an Israeli strike in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 16, 2012. - Photo by AFP
Fire rises from a builing during an explosion following an Israeli strike in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 16, 2012. - Photo by AFP

GAZA CITY: The air strike begins with a rumble, which grows louder as the people wince, and then bursts into a crash, as though the night sky over Gaza had split open and crumbled.

In the three days since Israel began an aerial campaign against Gaza, air strikes have pounded the territory continuously, but after dark the raids intensify.

In a third-floor apartment in the Nasser neighbourhood of Gaza City, the family leaves the windows open to try to prevent the glass from shattering when the air displaced by each blast radiates out in a burst.

The street in front of the building is already covered in a shimmering carpet of shards from the panes of their unluckier neighbours.

The shockwaves from each blast gust into their home, blowing apart the curtains as the building trembles and the fixtures rattle from the force of the impact.

Sometimes a single strike sounds, other times multiple blasts, in a terrifying rhythm that leaves residents trembling and holding their breath.

At times, the blasts shake children awake, and some begin to cry immediately, reaching for the comfort of a parent’s embrace. Others wet themselves with fear, or freeze, too scared even to cry.

Laila Saker, 29, is eight-and-half months pregnant and the mother of six-year-old Razan and four-year-old Uday.

“My daughter Razan hasn’t spoken for the last two days. She rarely makes a sound. My son, Uday, has become aggressive. I’ve been trying to relax them...but I feel like it isn’t working,” she told AFP.

“I’m afraid for my unborn baby and my children. I want to cry during the bombing but I’m holding myself together for the children because I don’t want them to be afraid.”

A resident of the Nasser neighbourhood, she cowered in terror in her home throughout dozens of air strikes on Thursday night, and decided to move in with her in-laws on Friday, hoping their home might be safer.

“As soon as I got there I began crying uncontrollably,” she said Friday night, speaking as a new round of strikes knocked out power.

“I’ve never experienced such a bad night, it was the worst night of my life. It’s the first time I’ve been that terrified.”

The sound of outgoing fire inspires fear too. Smaller rockets whoosh upwards, bigger ones are sometimes loud enough to be mistaken for incoming fire – just without the crash of an impact.

Since Wednesday afternoon, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes, targeting every city in the densely-populated Gaza Strip, which is dotted throughout with Hamas facilities and rocket launching sites.

Families argue about where to go. But for most, there are simply no options. Leaving Gaza is virtually impossible, and there are no bomb shelters and no places to hide.

As Friday night turned into Saturday morning, the blasts slowed, and the sound of drones filled the air, buzzing like distant lawnmowers.

For a while, there was relative quiet, just one big blast an hour, shaking people awake long enough for them to readjust and go back to sleep.

But shortly after 5:00 am, two strikes in quick succession hit close enough to make the building vibrate, and bounce the sleeping around in their beds.

Shortly afterwards, five sharp blasts shake the building again and the shadows thrown on the ceiling by a lightshade jump back and forth as as the bulb sways along with the room.

The strikes levelled the Hamas government headquarters, and damaged surrounding homes. Panic gripped the neighbourhood, and dust filled the air.

“It’s like a real-life horror movie, what I saw today,” said 18-year-old Suha, standing in front house with her mother. “It’s a miracle we’re still alive.”

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Comments are closed.

Comments (15)

Sumit Mazumdar
November 17, 2012 6:35 pm
Please also write about Aleppo and Damascus neighborhoods.
logic suggests...
November 18, 2012 10:41 am
Israel killed a Hamas man first under truce, in return there were rockets and now israel is preparing for an occupation. Get your story straight.
November 18, 2012 10:59 am
Sandip israel started the attack because israeli elections are near and israelis vote for the one who kills the most Palestinians.
November 18, 2012 9:55 am
Probably because nations like Israel and US do not need any "reason" to attack others!
November 17, 2012 4:52 pm
where are the champions of peace? UN, world community?? this is brutality, vandalism, inhumanity...this is terrorism, not committed by some small mediocre group having their own interpretation of religion but by whole state! Pity on OIC (Oh I See), influential Arab nations and all international forums who have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to civilian brutalities in Gaza and Syria.
November 17, 2012 5:45 pm
Surprised to see Isreali terror does not make headlines in Pakistani press. SHAHID HUSSEIN QABOOLPURIA, LAHORE, PAKISTAN
November 18, 2012 2:21 pm
Can't debate folks whose storyline is controlled by there alliance to a religion than events.
November 17, 2012 2:25 pm
The areal bombing took place after Hamas started firing more than 1200 rockets across the border and everything else is an after effect. The easiest way for the bloodshed to stop is to stop firing rockets and come to the table to talk.
November 17, 2012 7:23 pm
According to media news Gaza children are the worst affected from recent violence in Gaza. Just two days sixteen children lost their lives. Media is showing horrific pictures of killed and terrifying children. One eleven year old baby killed with her mother when missile hits her home. BBC own local bureau chief lost his four years old child due to heavy bombardment in his area. Washington Times published picture of crying father holding the body his dead child on its front page. Five year old girl lost her all fingers due to sharp nails of exploding bomb near her house. One farther show dead body of his four year old son to Egyptian prime Minster who kissed his dead son head during his visit to Gaza Shifa hospital. True reality is that Gaza children are paying heavy price for Israeli war adventure in Gaza. These innocent children don’t have iron dome system, bomb proof shelters, air defense warning system and emergency shelters on roads and markets like Israel’s. Crowded Gaza hospital are trying hard to deal worst injured women and children. True reality is that Israelis air strikes are not surgical and not for specific war targets Israel is deliberately targeting densely populated areas full of children. Now people of Pakistan are astonished to see the double standard of UNO and so called champion of human rights. Only days ago UNO celebrated Malala day for Pakistani girl she was slightly injured in so called terrorist attack in Sawat Pakistan. From UNO chairman Bankimon to pop star Madonna and UK Prime Minster Gorden Brown to Hollywood star Angelina Jolie ever one was worried and upset for Malala and now want to nominate her for noble prize. Several days Malala story was leading news in western media. Astonishingly these all personalities and media are sitting silent, seeing everything with blind eyes and never say single word for dozens of children who lost their lives in Gaza due to constant bombing and long siege of Gaza. Most of them children were killed because of US made F16s and other sophisticated weapons supply to Israel. True reality is that due to this type of double standard UNO is losing its credibility in third world countries which is very unfortunate.
November 17, 2012 10:47 pm
Shame on this civilised world. Shame on muslim ummah. We can not stand for our brother and sisters. We need unity otherwise we all will be destroyed one by one.
Cyrus Howell
November 17, 2012 9:40 pm
Israeli jets are taking down the Gaza Strip's electrical grid. They feel it does not matter because Hamas is in the dark anyway.
November 17, 2012 6:24 pm
Thank you very much United Nation to sit keep quite with close your eyes and let Palestinian dead...
November 18, 2012 3:02 am
"And if Hamas believes in expelling the Jews from their homeland, from Israel, then they are also enemies of Islam! Anyone who wants to expel the Jews from their country is my enemy as a Muslim, an enemy of Islam, and enemy of Humanity." - Ibrahim Sarsur, one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement in Israel. (Sleeping On a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel, p. 230.)
November 17, 2012 9:24 pm
Why there is no mention of why Israel started the attack.
November 18, 2012 4:00 am
"The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ? George Orwell, 1984 Shame on Muslims leaders who only know how to oppress their own citizens but can't fight with Israel.
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