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As the night falls, grip of terror tightens on Gaza

Published Nov 17, 2012 12:41pm


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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 (15) Closed

Sumit Mazumdar Nov 17, 2012 06:35pm
Please also write about Aleppo and Damascus neighborhoods.
logic suggests... Nov 18, 2012 10:41am
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.
Muslimeen Nov 18, 2012 10:59am
Sandip israel started the attack because israeli elections are near and israelis vote for the one who kills the most Palestinians.
Faqi Nov 18, 2012 09:55am
Probably because nations like Israel and US do not need any "reason" to attack others!
Muneeb Nov 17, 2012 04:52pm
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.
shahid Nov 17, 2012 05:45pm
Surprised to see Isreali terror does not make headlines in Pakistani press. SHAHID HUSSEIN QABOOLPURIA, LAHORE, PAKISTAN
Sandip Nov 18, 2012 02:21pm
Can't debate folks whose storyline is controlled by there alliance to a religion than events.
Tamilselvan Nov 17, 2012 02:25pm
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.
KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ Nov 17, 2012 07:23pm
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
Tahira Nov 17, 2012 10:47pm
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 Nov 17, 2012 09:40pm
Israeli jets are taking down the Gaza Strip's electrical grid. They feel it does not matter because Hamas is in the dark anyway.
Ahtasham Nov 17, 2012 06:24pm
Thank you very much United Nation to sit keep quite with close your eyes and let Palestinian dead...
solomon2 Nov 18, 2012 03:02am
"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.)
Sandip Nov 17, 2012 09:24pm
Why there is no mention of why Israel started the attack.
Jimmy Nov 18, 2012 04:00am
"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?