Gazans: ‘We face a dark destiny’

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip explain how Israel’s ground offensive is affecting them.

Israeli troops backed by air and naval power have surrounded Gaza City [GALLO/GETTY]

As Israeli forces push deeper into the Gaza Strip and the death toll continues to rise, Al Jazeera hears from some of the Gazans we first spoke to during the aerial bombardment.

They describe the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza and explain how the Israeli ground offensive is affecting them.

Majed Badra, 23, Gaza City, cartoonist and student at the Islamic University

“Last night was difficult – all of Gaza was under darkness. There is no TV because there is no electricity, so all the time we sit and wait and hear news on the radio about what the Israeli forces are doing and what our resistance can do and how many of our people they have killed.  

I am used to air-raids and hearing the tanks come into Gaza and we are used to hearing reports on the radio in the dark. But we have to focus on the children – my brother’s sons are scared all the time and the children are very frightened of the dark and of the military.

Yesterday the bread in our house ran out and me and my brother went to the bakery and waited three hours just to buy bread. There is not a lot of food in Gaza.

We have water, but we need electricity to power the pump so the water may run out in a few days. This has already happened for some of our neighbours.

Of course I worry about this situation and that maybe there will be no food left and we will have to go searching for it. But I don’t know what will happen. I don’t have any thoughts. I am living in the moment and waiting to see what will happen.”

Hamoudi, Tal el Hawa

“Our situation is bleak. I wasn’t able to get in touch with my family for four days. I’m stuck in the middle of Gaza City and they were at home. Today I met them – fortunately they are still alive.

But there is no food, no water, the power has been cut for eight days.

Our lives – the decent life that every human being should have – is being taken from us. We are civilians – we haven’t done anything to Israel.

“It is guerrilla warfare inside the city …. All of the citizens of the so-called free world are watching … while we’re being slaughtered”

Hamoudi, Gaza

I do not support Hamas. I hate politics. I’ve hated it all my life. But Hamas has no other option but to resist. Dying for the Palestinian cause is something noble. They’re fighting back fiercely because it is the only option they have.

They’re an Islamic movement and feel they have nothing to lose, because they’ll go to heaven. They fight with everything they’ve got.

It’s guerrilla warfare inside the city where the buildings are very close to each other. That’s why the battlefield is different to that of Lebanon in 2006.

All of the citizens of the so-called free world are watching us on their high definition monitors, while we’re being slaughtered.

People know what is going on, the international community knows. When are they going to take action? We’re in the 21st century – is this what civilisation is all about?

As a Palestinian, I don’t rely on the international community; they abandoned us.

Isn’t this what the Security Council and Geneva Conventions are about – fighting to prevent war?

When the fuel runs out it’s going to be pitch black – we’ll lose all communications and no one will know what’s going on. We’re facing a dark destiny.

The situation is going to become really bad – way beyond catastrophic.”

Amin Asfour, Gaza City, doctor in a public hospital

“Yesterday and today the situation has gotten worse. We have more injured coming in.

The ground offensive has begun and they’re shooting at anyone they can.

I don’t know what’s going on on the front lines, but here at the hospital we’re seeing more and more people who have been shot.

The international community is just standing by and watching – people have gone deaf and forgotten how to speak. All we hear are bombs and rockets, no words.

There have been demonstrations – the people stand behind us. But the governments can’t hear them.

International governments can stop this but they’re not doing anything.

I see convoys of medicine and supplies coming our way on the TV, but I haven’t seen any of it with my own eyes yet.

We’re still working with what we have, but it’s all running out.”

Ghada Snunu, 30, Gaza City, human rights worker

“We’re surviving, but last night it was more than a nightmare – the attacks didn’t stop at all.

There were just a few seconds between attacks from tanks, warplanes and from the sea. We couldn’t sleep at all.

Many Gazans are concerned about their children’s psychological state [GALLO/GETTY]

We haven’t seen any news because we have no electricity. I have a radio on my mobile phone but the battery died last night.

Also, we have no water, no gas, nothing. We have some food but in a few days it will run out.

We were more than terrified last night – the artillery from the attacks increased and it is so loud.

And the kids – I have no words to describe how they felt. They were screaming and crying and we can’t help them because each time they hear more attacks their fear increases.

It’s getting worse and worse. I am worried because I don’t see an end.

I am very depressed and everyone in my family is the same: depressed, afraid and sick because the Israelis are becoming more and more crazy.

I hope the resistance in Gaza will help us – yesterday I was praying for the resistance movement, for God to give them support and strength.

I believe the resistance is strong and brave – facing the Israeli army is not an easy thing. They are sacrificing everything for the sake of their home country and their land.

Why doesn’t the international community demand that Israel halt its attacks immediately? They are only on the side of Israel, not with us. They want more Palestinian victims in Gaza – people who did nothing and do not deserve to be killed in such an ugly way.”

Hatem Shurrab, aid worker in Gaza

“The situation is getting worse and worse, day by day.

Medical staff are suffering because of the offensive, equipment is more scarce.

Two days ago we provided two hospitals with food that should last for a month.

Our work is difficult because we are working under constant fire. We keep hearing the sounds of explosions. Planes are flying over us, they are not leaving the sky.

Last night was really terrifying. I stayed in the basement with my family. We were in total darkness. It was very cold. Over us there was the sound of huge explosions and planes. Every minute there was a missile. My nephew couldn’t stop crying.

I hope it stops. Gazans are peaceful people. We don’t deserve this.

I want all of this to stop so that I can work to help the people.”

Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA director in Gaza

“The situation is very frightening. There is lots of panic and fear, bombing everywhere.

There is a great psychological pressure on everyone as we realise the future consequences.

The bombing is hurting lots of civilians because it is a densely populated area. This is the reality on the ground. You cannot avoid that even if you want to.

The humanitarian situation is deteriorating. There is no electricity in Gaza now – last week we used to get it for two hours a day, now we get nothing.

Before we had running water for three hours out of every 48. Now there is no water because it depends on electricity.

Also, the sewage system does not work because there is no electricity or spare parts.

There is a lack of qualified doctors for the very complicated surgeries and a lack of medicines.

There is no wheat or sugar in stores – many essential items are missing.

Now they’re cutting all electrical lines and destroying the infrastructure. Today the telecom company issued a statement saying that the telecommunications will be cut off because the infrastructure has been damaged – we will not have telephones or mobile phones.”

Baha’ Enaya, Gaza, engineer

“The situation is a humanitarian disaster and it keeps worsening.

Yesterday the last generator of electricity in Gaza stopped; now this has many implications. For example, I live in a twelve storey building and the electricity cut means that even water pumps will not be able to pump water up to the last floors.

In my house I have not had electricity or fuel for a few days. Because of the F-16 strikes I have to leave all the windows in my house open to reduce the pressure on the walls and windows, with no heating we are seriously freezing.

There are people living in houses built from tin and asbestos. I am sure that if a specialised committee is to examine all the buildings in the Strip, they will find out that many of them are not suitable for inhabiting anymore or are about to fall apart.

“I was one of those people who believed in political solutions and that peace is possible, but what we have seen negates all that”

Baha’, Gaza

Last night was very harsh – we had air strikes accompanied by bombing from watercrafts and tanks. We have the impression that all the Israeli army is taking part.

The bombing clearly aims to terrify people. Why would they use military boats if there are no targets in the sea or on the shore?

I also saw something new, that I haven’t seen before, a bomb that starts waves of dust mixed with some substance that smells like lead.

Bakeries are probably the only places were you can see people gathered. People are not leaving their houses unless they needed bread or medical care, and the streets are full of rubble, in every corner you can see a destroyed building.

Most of what we eat now is from cans; and in any case I don’t think people have any appetite to eat.

This operation is re-emphasising that every Palestinian is a suspect; the war being fought against us proves that there are no moral standards whatsoever, this mentality that is practicing all those brutalities against civilians will only lead to more extremism.

I was one of the people who believed in political solutions and that peace is possible, yet what we see negates all that. It is evident now more than at any time that Israel has no interest in peace.

Gaza is a big prison and Israel wants to turn us into a model of its hegemony maybe to show the world its deterrent force.

What is taking place is not a war; because there is no proportionality between Palestinian resistance and Israeli acts, it’s an aggression.

I feel like we are living in a type of madness that enhances the radicalism on both sides. I wonder whether we are the Native Americans of the 21st century.”

Additional reporting by Oscar Ibrahim, Rachel Shabi and Mira Nabulsi

Click here to read the first installment of Voices from Gaza

Source : Al Jazeera

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