‘It was terrifying’: Gazans describe the Israeli bombardment of their homes | Israel


To the north of Gaza’s Beit Lahia, earlier than the border wall with Israel is reached, lies an space of agricultural land and villages that curls round the tip of the coastal strip. In occasions of battle, its fields and scattered homes are a really harmful place.

Shut to 1 of the fundamental entry factors used for invading by Israeli forces, and weak to bombs and artillery, it’s also used as a line of defence by Gaza’s militant fighters.

Hussein Abu Qleeq in hospital. {Photograph}: Hazem Balousha/The Guardian

Hussein Abu Qleeq, who lives in a Bedouin village near the border, was in his three-storey house when it was hit. “I was sitting with my household,” the 30-year-old informed the Guardian in the Shifa hospital in Gaza metropolis.


“All of the sudden, there was a sound of intense artillery shelling on the border. I didn’t count on it to hit the homes. Kids began screaming. Then a shell got here into our home.”

Hussein was hit by shrapnel in his neck, arm and again. “It was a terrifying ambiance. You may’t think about it. We have now lived by way of three wars and that is the first time this bombing has occurred in such a sudden, violent means.”

Rocket fire in dark sky
Rockets fired in the direction of Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip {Photograph}: Anas Baba/AFP/Getty

In the previous, as these like Hussein know from private expertise, the Israeli navy has warned residents of such outlying rural areas to vacate their homes earlier than operations.

However this time, they counsel, no warning was given by the Israeli navy because it hit what it stated have been tunnels utilized by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in a bombardment that turned the night time sky orange with large fireballs.

Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli navy spokesman, stated Israeli forces took care with their targets however weren’t at all times in a position to warn residents. “As at all times, the goal is to strike navy targets and to minimise collateral injury and civilian casualties,” Conricus stated, in line with the Related Press. “In contrast to our very elaborate efforts to clear civilian areas earlier than we strike high-rise or giant buildings inside Gaza, that wasn’t possible this time.”

Taher al-Kafarneh, 68, who lives in the border space close to the neighbouring city of Beit Hanoun, tells an analogous story to Hussein Abu Qleeq.

Billowing clouds after explosion
The aftermath of an assault by the Israeli military in Gaza Metropolis on 14 Might {Photograph}: Anadolu Company/Getty

“When the violence began to escalate, I moved with my 15 sons, my two wives and my grandchildren to my daughter’s home in the centre of Beit Hanoun, into one home consisting of three flooring, with about 150 folks [sheltering].

“At about midnight, the intense bombardment started with rockets from either side along with artillery, and the road was bombed with violent and steady missiles. A shell from a aircraft or artillery … I don’t know … hit the final ground of the home, during which some of my youngsters and their youngsters stayed, and the electrical energy of the home was reduce off.

“Everybody was screaming. About 40 to 50 folks from the home have been injured from the bombing, and we escaped on foot, till ambulances arrived. Even then they may not attain the home as a result of of bombing in the road. So folks began carrying the injured.”

By Friday morning, Palestinians residing on Gaza’s northern and jap fringes with Israel have been fleeing in the direction of extra closely built-up areas in the Strip’s centre, escaping the intense artillery bombardment and fearing new barrages.

Households arrived at the UN-run colleges in the metropolis – utilized in wartime to deal with these escaping or whose homes have been destroyed – in pickup vans, on donkeys and by foot, hauling pillows and pans, blankets and bread.

“We have been planning to depart our homes at night time, however Israeli jets bombarded us so we needed to wait till the morning,” stated Hedaia Maarouf, who fled together with her prolonged household of 19 folks, together with 13 youngsters. “We have been terrified for our kids, who have been screaming and shaking.”

Family in donkey cart
A Palestinian household atop a carriage pulled by a donkey in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip {Photograph}: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty

The primary hospitals serving the north and centre have additionally seen a gentle inflow of lifeless and injured from these areas as Israel’s navy marketing campaign has moved from one of nearly fixed airstrikes in opposition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the direction of artillery hearth – which many worry might herald a floor invasion.

Already combating the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals throughout the crowded coastal enclave are reallocating intensive care beds and scrambling to maintain up with a really totally different well being disaster: treating blast and shrapnel wounds, bandaging cuts and performing amputations.

Distraught kin didn’t look ahead to ambulances, speeding the wounded by automotive or on foot to Shifa hospital, the territory’s largest. Exhausted docs hurried from affected person to affected person, frantically bandaging shrapnel wounds to cease the bleeding. Others gathered at the hospital morgue, ready with stretchers to take away the our bodies for burial.

“Earlier than the navy assaults, we had main shortages and will barely handle with the second [virus] wave,” stated Gaza well being ministry official Abdelatif al-Hajj by telephone, as bombs thundered in the background. “Now casualties are coming from all instructions, actually essential casualties. I worry a complete collapse.”

Nurses at the European hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, frantically trying to find room for the wounded, moved dozens of virus sufferers in the center of the night time to a unique constructing, stated hospital director Yousef al-Akkad. Its surgeons and specialists, who had been deployed elsewhere for the virus, rushed again to deal with head accidents, fractures and stomach wounds.

If the battle intensifies, the hospital will be unable to look after virus sufferers, al-Akkad stated.

“We have now solely 15 intensive care beds, and all I can do is pray,” he stated, including that as a result of the hospital lacks surgical provides and experience, he has already organized to ship one little one to Egypt for reconstructive shoulder surgical procedure.

“I pray these airstrikes will cease quickly.”

Related Press and Reuters contributed to this text

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