Palestinians pack ’emergency’ bags as Israeli bombs rain down on Gaza

A Palestinian woman in Gaza shows the world what she has packed in preparation for an assault or evacuation – a torch, some dates, a first aid kit and ID documents.

Eman Shanti, a Palestinian woman in Gaza, has several items in her “emergency backpack”, which she carries around as Israeli bombs rain down on the besieged and blockaded strip.

“So first I have lights,” she says in a video posted to her Instagram account on Tuesday, pulling a torch from her bag.

“I also have dates with me, because sometimes we can be in places where we don’t have access to food, so at least we have dates to eat. I also have my personal ID … and health card.”

As she unzips every compartment of the bag to show her followers, the sounds of bombs are heard in the background.

“Sorry for the noise you hear … I can’t afford preparing a setup in a more appropriate location,” she says.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas escalated, Shanti, who works as a social media content producer in Gaza, has been posting videos and pictures regularly, portraying daily life in Gaza amid fears of an imminent Israeli ground invasion and humanitarian catastrophe.

Many Palestinians like her have become accustomed to life under Israeli bombardment and Shanti says they have a system in place, to be ready for emergencies.

“I hope that we will not have to leave or evacuate .. but from the first day of the 2008 attack to the 2021 attack, we’ve had a system to prepare to leave our homes in case of an attack.”

She says women wear prayer clothes, “which is our official uniform in an emergency situation”.

These clothes, which are lightweight, comfortable and loose-fitting, are worn in case people are attacked while inside buildings. They do not want their bodies to be exposed, should they be killed or injured, and have to be retrieved from under the rubble.

In her emergency bag is a small bright green pouch containing medicine and a first aid kit. There are also Kleenex tissues, perfumed wipes, and a patterned yellow folder – in which she keeps her official identity documents.

“Hopefully we will not have to use them [documents]. But we carry them just in case we need to present them or to avoid having to get them reissued in case there’s a raid,” she says.

“And of course, I carry my laptop … these are the items that I put in my bag when there’s a strike, and a lot of women and mothers take these items with them.”

She advises women to wear their precious jewellery or carry it in the tailored pockets of prayer outfits and says it would be helpful for children to carry their own emergency backpacks with some personal items.

“I hope that you all stay safe, and I hope that we stay safe,” she tells viewers, signing off.

Israel began bombarding Gaza after Hamas, which controls the strip, carried out a surprising attack on Saturday in Israel. It is accused by Israel of killing hundreds of civilians, including children. The Palestinian group denies deliberately targeting civilians but has admitted taking hostages.

In retaliation, Israel dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza in six days, imposed a total blockade – cutting supplies of food, fuel, and water, and promised to launch a ground invasion aimed at crushing Hamas.

But some world leaders and many international rights and aid groups have condemned Israel’s response as brutal and warned it endangers the more than two million people who live in Gaza, about half of whom are children.

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Source: Al Jazeera