After a night of air raids, Palestinians in Gaza fear escalation

The Gaza Strip endured a night of bombardment as Israeli fighter jets conducted raids on several sites in the territory.

Israeli bombing last night on Gaza
Israeli warplanes bombed land in the eastern Gaza Strip, resulting in extensive damage to houses and nearby buildings [Abedelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Gaza City, Gaza – When the first Israeli airstrike hit near the Al Dorra children’s hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip overnight on Thursday, Samar Alwan rushed to her two-year-old daughter’s bed to pick her up.

Moments later, the glass from the window above the bed shattered and crashed onto the cot.

“My daughter miraculously survived,” the 23-year-old Alwan, who has been in the hospital for two days with her fever-stricken daughter, told Al Jazeera.

“Last night, we were sleeping in the ward. Suddenly we woke up to the sound of the terrifying air strikes.

“They were moments of massive fear, the glass was falling. I immediately rushed to take my child out of her bed. Moments later, the window fell on her bed. I was close to losing her.”

A mum reassuring her baby.
Samar Alwan and her two-year-old daughter in Al Dorra Hospital [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

The hospital in the eastern Gaza Strip was partially damaged when Israeli planes bombarded open land beside it early on Friday.

The attacks resulted in extensive damage to nearby houses and buildings. Israel said it struck weapons production sites and underground tunnels linked to the Hamas group, which controls the territory.

Alwan said the bombardment could have caused a catastrophe at the hospital.

“All the sick children were frightened and screaming, a state of tension prevailed among all the mothers and the medical staff because of the intensity of the bombing,” she added.

“Glass from the windows was falling and shattering. There were some windows that fell into the beds of sick children just moments after they had been picked up. This could have caused a catastrophe and a large number of injuries.”

Children in the bombing area
Children stand near the empty lands bombed in the east of Gaza last night [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Gaza’s Ministry of Health (MOH) denounced the Israeli air raids “that caused partial damage to the hospital in Gaza city and horrified the children”.

“This is not the first time that health facilities have been targeted, and it is unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement.

“These attacks not only put patients’ lives at risk but also create a sense of fear among healthcare workers, patients, and their families.”

The MOH urged the international community to take action against these attacks on health facilities and take measures to protect healthcare facilities and staff in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Alwan said her daughter’s condition worsened and her fever intensified after the bombing.

“Several children here have spent the night trembling with fear. Our children are poor in Gaza, they do not enjoy Ramadan or Eid, or any other occasion. They are always threatened with fear and destruction that may come their way at any moment.”

‘Like an earthquake’

Majdi Abu Nima and his family woke up at 3:00am (1:00 GMT) for their suhoor (pre-fasting meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan) in their home in the Al Tuffah district of Gaza City.

Suddenly, Israeli warplanes were attacking empty land next to their house, causing severe destruction to their home and creating fear among family members.

“It was like an earthquake,” Abu Nima, a father of seven, told Al Jazeera. “We were terrified. Immediately, I rushed to my three daughters’ bedroom to find my two-year-old daughter covered with shattered window glass.”

The father stands in between two beds. Both bends have pink and yellow bedcovers. The bed in front of him is covered with dirt on which lies a pink pillow and teddy bear. He is looking out the window, which has been damaged. The fly screen is bent and protrudes towards him.
Majdi Abu Nima stands in his daughters’ bedroom which was affected during a nearby bombing last night [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

“I can’t forget her shock, fear, her heartbeat. Everyone in the house was screaming.

“Until now, I don’t understand why they bombed our area. How could an empty land be bombed without any justification? There are no resistance fighters or any military site here – it’s just an empty land between residential buildings.”

The 44-year-old explained to Al Jazeera the difficulties he had faced when trying to buy the house.

“I moved into this house less than a year ago and the instalments are still piling up. Only two days ago, we brought a set of sofas to prepare for Eid. But now, there is no longer any joy for Eid or any celebration.”

Maidi's son lifts a damaged side table from between a blue couch and a matching armchair. Maidi stands behind him with his arms folding behind his back. There is dirt on the rug on the floor and another two, mismatched couches.
Majdi and his son checking their furniture that was affected by last night’s bombing [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘Lost his car’

Mohannad Abu Nima, the family’s 26-year-old eldest son, told Al Jazeera that when he heard the first attack, he rushed downstairs to check on his car.

“As soon as I reached the stairs, the second, third, fourth and fifth strikes came. They shook the place. It was filled with dust.

“I was hearing my parents crying and calling my name, thinking I had died in the bombing, until they heard my voice reassuring them that I was fine.”

Although no one in the family was injured, Mohannad felt sad over the loss of his car that he had bought six months ago.

Mohannad leans over a large pile of dirt from which some metal parts of a destroyed car are protruding.
Mohannad Abu Nima checks on what remains of his car [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

“I put all my savings in it after working day and night to buy it. It was my only source of income,” Mohannad added as he stood next to his destroyed car.

“Conditions in the Gaza Strip are unbearably difficult. The bombing came and destroyed whatever we had left. Life here has become truly hell.”

On Thursday night, the Gaza Strip witnessed a long night of escalation, during which Israeli fighter jets conducted air raids on several sites – including agricultural and empty lands – and Palestinian armed groups fired rockets into Israel.

The latest round of escalation in Gaza began when Israeli police attacked worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, leading to widespread condemnation from the Arab and international communities.

A destroyed car sits covered by sand, its roof caved in and back detached. People are milling around, surveying the damage. There is what looks to be an apartment block behind them that is intact but damaged.
Residents check the destruction aftermath of the Israeli bombing last night [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera