Palestinians live in fear, as Israeli troops build on Gaza border

Dubai - Residents of Gaza bearing the brunt of the latest flare up between Israel and Palestine.


Anjana Sankar

Published: Thu 13 May 2021, 6:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 May 2021, 6:19 PM

As Israel has built its troops on the Gaza border preparing for a ground offensive, Palestinian residents say they are living in fear and in no mood to celebrate Eid.

The night sky over Gaza was ablaze on Wednesday as aerial bombings by Israeli forces continued and hundreds of rockets also fired by Hamas across the border.

The ear-splitting noise of bomb blasts exploding in the neighborhoods drowned out the screams and wailings of women and children.

“When you look up (to the sky), it looked like Eid fireworks, but it is not. We are under attack and there is nowhere to escape,” Haneen, 39, from Beit Lahiya city in North Gaza, told Khaleej Times.

Residents of Gaza who are bearing the brunt of the latest flare up between Israel and Palestine, described life as a “living hell” as Israeli bombs are reigning down on their cities.

“Today is Eid. It is supposed to be a blessed day. But we are being hit from all sides. We cannot eat or drink. There is no electricity or water. People are afraid to even stand at their door and check what is happening. The situation is describable,” Haneen, who is pregnant said over phone. The noise of bombs exploding, and firings could be heard in the background even as she spoke to this reporter.

Eighty- three Palestinians, including 17 children and 7 women, were killed, while 487 wounded so far in the ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The rockets fired by militant group Hamas that controls Gaza killed at least six Israeli civilians, including a 5-year-old boy, said Israeli government. More than 1,000 rockets had been fired from Gaza by Wednesday night, the Israeli military said.

What began as simmering ethnic violence between Israeli Arabs and right-wing Jewish citizens escalated into an all-out conflict when Israeli police entered the Al Aqsa Mosque compound – revered by both Muslims and Jews - and attacked Muslims who had gathered to pray. While Israeli police maintained that they were confronting stone-throwing Palestinian mobs, Hamas retaliated by firing hundreds of rockets deep into Israel’s civilian targets. The controversy over the proposed eviction of several Palestinian families also boiled over, and open rioting has begun on many Israeli cities between Israel’s Arab citizens and Jews.

Even as fears are mounting that the decades old Israeli- Palestinian conflict will spiral into a full-blown war, and world leaders calling for calm and restraint, Israel said it has moved its army to the Gaza border preparing themselves for ground operations.

Palestinian residents of Gaza – a 360 square km enclave, said they are living in constant fear as tension is escalating.

“There is no Eid in Gaza this year. Instead of dressing up and going out and getting together with families, we are pulling the dead out of the rubble,” said Nedam Hamdouna, a local journalist.

“We are huddled inside homes as bombs are raining on us at our homes, on the cars, on the streets. There is not a single place in Gaza that is safe. We have no bomb shelters as everyone knows.”

Hamdouna said three of his neighbours got killed in the Israeli airstrike when they were driving to their farm.

“Innocent civilians are being murdered by Israelis. What we see is the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli crimes, he said.

Rawan Makhaimer, 31, from the Gaza city said she is having a nervous breakdown because of the constant bombings.

“This is my son Ahmed’s first Eid and I was eagerly waiting to celebrate. But we are going through the most horrible things ever. We can only rely on God,” said Makhaimer.

Describing the horrors in Gaza, Rasha Abu Shabaan, a Palestinian human rights activist, told Khaleej Times it is still difficult to get used to the endless cycle of violence they are subjected to.

“A huge airstrike hit near me while I was writing a post on my Facebook. I dropped my laptop, then grabbed it again and continued writing. Our hearts still pound hard and we run out of breath with every sound of bombing we hear even though we've heard this thousands of times before.”

“The noises of the hovering drones still strain on our nerves even though we've been hearing them for years and years. But we will never get used to this,” said Abu Shabaan.

The human cost of the violence is born by Israel too as seven people got killed in the rocket attacks.

Many Israeli citizens said they are taking refuge in the underground shelters as Hamas rockets hit civilian targets. Video footages from Israel showed citizens hiding for cover as hundreds of rockets streamed into Israeli cities, and some directly hitting residential buildings.


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