Israeli raids have reduced many buildings to rubble
in the town of Beit Hanoun 

There has been a recent spike in Israeli military raids across the Palestinian territories.

 

Nine Palestinians have died in Israeli raids since last weekend despite a ceasefire between Israel and armed Palestinian factions agreed last November.  

 

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has appealed for Israeli restraint while calling for Palestinians' commitment to the ceasefire.

 

However, ordinary Palestinians remain fearful that rising tensions could threaten their community. 

 

Home threatened

 

Residents in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip are among those fearing such an escalation.

 

Often, I try to sleep and my eyes are looking up towards the ceiling. I look at my children, I think of what has happened to us

After losing her husband, a daughter and two sons, Um Ayman Abu Odeh is living in what's left of her badly damaged home in Beit Hanoun.

 

Though she has little material possessions, she says she would rather die than leave the home she has known for 27 years.

 

From her home at the eastern edge of the town, Um Ayman can see the Israeli military base at the other side of the fence.

 

She says Israeli tanks pass her home regularly and special forces often take over what is left of her top floor while everybody is asleep.

 

"Often, I try to sleep and my eyes are looking up towards the ceiling. I look at my children, I think of what has happened to us.

 

"Sometimes I sit up, sometimes I cry or just toss and turn. What else can I do?"

 

Destruction

 

Azhar was shot six times by Israeli soldiers along with her sister, father and brother.

She bled for five hours before an ambulance arrived, but survived. The others were not so lucky.

 

Her brother Hatem showed Al Jazeera what was once his parents' wing in the house.

 

"The tank shell fell over our heads. The room was burned and the bathroom was blown up. You can see the destruction," he said.

 

The family were hosting guests for lunch when the shell landed on their home.

 

"The men were sitting in the guestroom and the girls were here when suddenly the tank shell went through the roof and everybody ran out," Hatem said.

 

Azhar told Al Jazeera of being shot
six times by Israeli soldiers
Since that day a year ago, Hatem moved out with his wife and children.

 

Piles of rubble

 

Beit Hanoun is a town that hasn't recovered from previous Israeli incursions. Piles of rubble remain from tens of houses that once stood there.


Now the residents anticipate another Israeli military attack. 

 

Throughout Beit Hanoun, signs of utter devastation remain fresh. Repair work is still underway, almost six months after the last Israeli raid on the town.

 

The last time Israeli tanks went in to Beit Hanoun, they left it in ruins.

 

Local authorities say over 60 Palestinians were killed and properties worth tens of millions of dollars were lost as a result of what Israel called a "limited operation".

 

Now, Israel is threatening to carry out another "limited attack".

 

Needless to say, everyone in Beit Hanoun is preparing for the worst.

Source: Al Jazeera