Mood still tense among residents of Gaza
As dusk fell and thunderous explosions echoed around Gaza City yesterday, residents said the mood remained tense and ordinary life had ground to a standstill.
After seven days of the Israeli military bombardment, schools, universities and most shops were closed yesterday and queues had formed at bakeries as customers stocked up out of fear of a possible ground invasion.
“It’s just crazy,” said Iba’a Rizq (22), a university student.
“There is no life. It’s like a curfew in the streets. We keep our windows open 24/7 – it’s really cold, but we have to, because if an explosion happens nearby, the glass shatters and you get injured.”
Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, said there had been a “drastic escalation” in the Israeli attacks yesterday.
Braced for the worst
Despite rumours of an imminent ceasefire deal throughout the day, he said, people remained sceptical and were braced for the worst. “But morale is alright. People don’t feel down,” he said.
Israel has declared itself satisfied with its military operation, claiming it had succeeded in destroying much of Hamas’s military infrastructure while doing its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.
It also points to the success of its new missile defence system, which has intercepted large numbers of rockets fired at its cities from Gaza.
Mr Sourani challenged that interpretation, saying Israel had killed more than 120 Palestinians but just “a handful” of Hamas figures, and that the frequency of outgoing rocket-fire showed the air attacks had failed to stymie militants’ capacity.
“I think Israel is in a really serious dilemma, as we are,” he said.
Mr Sourani rejected Israel’s claim that it was not targeting civilians.
“The other day, I was at my Dad’s house. They bombed a police station with a one-tonne bomb metres away from us. What about my 87-year-old aunt? What about my two brothers, the children, my wife, my neighbours? They are terrorising the entire population.
“Nobody believes the dawn will come and they’ll still be alive.
“People think every night of the buildings collapsing on their heads. They are terrorising 1.7 million people . . . It’s obscene.”
Yesterday there were few signs of an easing of hostilities. Israel’s military said it targeted about 100 sites in Gaza, including ammunition stores and the local headquarters of the National Islamic Bank.
Gaza’s health ministry said six Palestinians were killed.
In the afternoon, Hamas killed six alleged collaborators, whom a security source quoted by the Hamas Aqsa radio said “were caught red-handed” with “filming equipment to take footage of positions”.
The radio station said they were shot.
Hours later, two journalists working for Aqsa TV were killed when their car was hit by an Israeli missile.
Across the border, Israeli police said more than 150 rockets were fired from Gaza by late afternoon, many of them intercepted by defensive missiles. Ten people were wounded in Israel, the military said.
As of last night, 126 Palestinians had been killed during the week of fighting, including 27 children and more civilians than combatants.
Three Israelis were killed last Thursday when a rocket from Gaza struck their house.
Iba’a Rizq said she wanted to see a ceasefire, but she also urged the international community not to lose sight of the wider problems faced by Gazans once the current round of fighting came to an end.
“We’re facing exile, siege, dispossession,” she said.
“The power on both sides is not equal. We’re facing a lot of problems. This is part of it, but it’s not just about Gaza getting bombed. It’s bigger than that.”