‘Nowhere in Gaza is safe’ – A snapshot of life under the bombs

Ambulances are among the civilian objects that have frequently been hit in Israel’s bombing campaign, showing nowhere is safe in Gaza © Private

Interview with a human rights fieldworker in Gaza

This morning as I brushed my teeth I could hear the familiar buzzing of a drone circling above our building. I ignored the sound. Drones circle overhead all the time; you never know whether it’s just for surveillance or an impending missile launch. The uncertainty makes you feel helpless. What can anyone do?

Five minutes later, a missile fired from what sounded like an F-16 fighter jet struck nearby. The loud boom sent the children running to me. They crowded in the bathroom, for comfort and safety. They looked so frightened and pale; their eyes red from lack of sleep. I am known for keeping a cool head, people say I have nerves of steel, so, typically, I just smiled at them – still clutching my toothbrush. The relief of seeing me smile made them break down in giggles; it’s one of those absurd reactions you have under extreme stress.

Overall, I try to keep things as normal as possible for them; we don’t talk about the war and deaths all the time. We take rational precautions but we don’t overdo it and try to avoid sowing panic. We don’t shout “go downstairs, go downstairs!” each time there’s a drone buzzing.

My home feels relatively safe, because I know my neighbours in the building and around me, and I know there is no one who could be a target. Yet nowhere in Gaza is truly safe. Life is dangerous. It’s war. We trust in God and look after the children.

I try to stay away from the areas where the fighting is taking place; in any case the Israeli military has made them off-limits. No vehicle is immune from attack. Just the other day a drone strike destroyed a clearly marked ambulance.

It’s when I am out taking photos and interviewing people who live in the areas being targeted that I am most at risk. The danger is when you feel that every house you are in could be targeted next. But I believe my work is important – regardless of the danger, it’s essential for the truth to come out.

Last week the case of the Abu Jame’ family in eastern Khan Yunis shook me to the core. Twenty-five members of one family had been wiped out in an Israeli airstrike just as they were eating Iftar, the evening meal to break the Ramadan fast. I arrived on the scene the following morning, just a few hours after the blast. They were pulling out the bodies all night. So many little ones. While I was there, another missile struck nearby.

At the moment, there are 28 people living in my house. My brothers normally live in Salatin in the northern Gaza Strip, where the Israeli ground invasion is going on. My three brothers with their families of about six or seven children each, and my children are all living together under one roof. I let them all stay with me; you can’t refuse when there are lives at stake.

The Israeli ground invasion has made it impossible to get food into Gaza City from the agricultural areas in the north. From the south the main Salah al-Din road that links the whole Gaza Strip is very exposed and comes under frequent drone attacks. At the moment only ambulances and a few humanitarian vehicles use it, at great risk.

The only market that is still functioning is the one in al-Shati Refugee Camp, which opens at night and gets very crowded. The stall-holders must risk their lives to get fresh vegetables. It is a dense area and if an F-16 bombed it the whole camp would become a crater. The few shops that remain open have run out of most stock.

We have electricity for about four to six hours every day, at different times. When the electricity is on we rush to charge all our mobile phones. A second-hand electricity generator costs 1,400 shekels [equivalent to approximately US$400], so not many can afford it. With no power, we have to pump up the water to the storage tanks on the roof – and that’s just to get water in the taps for washing. We have to buy clean water for cooking and drinking.

I have a desk with everything I need to work – computers, chargers, internet, cameras… but no electricity. I just managed to fix my old diesel generator and I got fuel for it today. Hopefully tonight it will work. I really need it, so that I can send the outside world testimonies and photos I have gathered… I feel under pressure to get the stories out of Gaza, so it’s incredibly frustrating when there is a blackout.

Take action:

US government: Stop arming Israel!

Read more: 

Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers (Q&A, 25 July 2014)
Israel/Gaza: Attacks on medical facilities and civilians add to war crime allegations (News story, 21 July 2014)
Israel/Gaza: Prevent further war crimes after Israeli ground assault (News story, 18 July 2014)
Israel/Gaza: UN must impose arms embargo and mandate an international investigation as civilian death toll rises (News story, 11 July 2014)

Posted in Armed Conflict, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

  1. Dee Kyne says:

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/THE_UN_STOP_THE_GENOCIDE_IN_PALESTINE/?copy please share if you can and where you can to whom you can we need to wake up the people – onelove

  2. Corina says:

    Thank you for your posts and for telling the story of the Gazan people. I hope you and your family stay safe and strong. Corina from Canada.

  3. bukgari shah says:

    i strongly condemned usa and israel

  4. Corey Multer says:

    You should be ashamed to be publishing this trash, and even more ashamed at your bullshit petition to Kerry about arms for Israel. Why don’t you show that you truly care about the innocent civilians of Gaza and protest their treatment by Hamas, who started this whole conflict and who uses them as human shields to maximize the number of civilian casualties. Your actions do not help the palestinian people. Rather, your actions will help Hamas retain their grip over the population of Gaza and will embolden them to continue to fight and continue to try to kill more innocent people. You claim to want to end the killing of innocent people, but clearly you do not. You should be ashamed of yourselves. STOP SUPPORTING TERRORISTS AND START SUPPORTING THE COUNTRY THAT HAS TO DEFEND ITSELF AND WHO IS TRYING TO BREAK THE GRIP THAT THE TERRORISTS HAVE OVER THE INNOCENT POPULATION!!!!!

    • Paul Boland says:

      Corey Multer

      why dont you face the facts?

      1. It is the State of Israel that has systematicaly ignored international law by continuing to build settlements in lands that belong to the Palestinian people
      2. It is the State of Israel that continues to blockade the people of Gaza denying them basic humar rights like food and water.
      3. It is the State of Israel that are the agressors, mounting a caompaign of terror with bombs and a land war with troops, tanks and bulldozers.

      Face the facts. The ones bringing the terror are Israelis. They are the terrorists here. The world knows it and you need to wake up to this fact as well.

      Stop deluding yourself. The shame is all yours. Israel has destroyed it’s reputation and is becoming more isolated by the day.

      There is a better way. Stop the killing and call a ceasefire. Take responsibility Corey Multer.

      • Corey Multer says:

        No, Mr. Boland, it’s you who must face the FACTS.

        “It is the State of Israel that has systematicaly ignored international law by continuing to build settlements in lands that belong to the Palestinian people.” These settlements you refer to have NOTHING to do with Gaza. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, uprooting any settlements. And as for the settlements in Judea and Samaria, that is NOT land that belongs to the palestinian people, as you claim. It is land to which the Jews have legitimate claims dating back centuries. The land that was set aside for the palestinian people, which was the vast majority of the territory, is the country that is now known as Jordan. Go learn your history.

        “It is the State of Israel that continues to blockade the people of Gaza denying them basic human rights like food and water.” PURE LIES! (But then again, you terrorist-supporting scum never let things like facts and truth get in the way of good propaganda.) The blockade exists SOLELY because the arabs refuse to live side-by-side with the Jews in peace. It is necessary to prevent the import of weapons, just like the wall is necessary to keep out the suicide bombers. It is a complete fabrication that the blockade prevents palestinians from getting food and water. Israel lets flow tons and tons of food and provides ample water. But if you read any sources beyone Terrorist Weekly, and if you cared to pay attention to what’s really happening, then you would know that.

        “3. It is the State of Israel that are the agressors, mounting a campaign of terror with bombs and a land war with troops, tanks and bulldozers.” It is the arabs who started the conflict by firing rockets incessantly into Israel. It is the arabs who target innocent civilians. It is the arabs who use their own people as human shields to maximize civilian casualties, for use in their propaganda campaign. Only a moron would accuse the one defending itself against constant attack of being the aggressor.

        “There is a better way. Stop the killing and call a ceasefire.” Did you notice who was willing to agree to numerous ceasefires and who was refusing? Repeatedly, Israel was willing to halt hostilities and Hamas refused. And when temporary ceasefires were reached for humanitarian aid, it was the arabs who violated EVERY ONE of them. And notice who was proposing the various ceasefires — Egypt. Even when arab states propose peace, the terrorists refuse. Because, as anyone with even half a brain can see (I guess that excludes you, then), the arabs have NO INTEREST IN PEACE WHATSOEVER! All we get is more of the same “The only thing we will accept is everything.” That’s been the M.O. of the arabs in this conflict since day one. “We want everything and we will give up nothing.” Name ONE demand (among the many ridiculous demands) that the arabs have EVER conceded. EVER! Heck, they won’t even agree to acknowledge Israel has a right to exist. ANYWHERE.

        So stop feeding me your bullshit about Israel being the bad guys and how cruel they are to the palestinians. It’s falling on deaf ears, here, sonny, because I know the truth and I’m smart enough to tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, even if you aren’t able to.

        But not that I’d expect anything more from someone on Amnesty’s site.

    • shawn smith says:


      If a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 25 members of a Jewish family on the pretext of defending his people, would you accept that justification? Would you accept a rational that would hold Israel responsible for the deaths of those Jews at the hands of a Palestinian? I think not. So it’s a matter for great wonder when I hear those EXACT arguments offered on behalf of Israel for it’s murder of people of color. The Jewish community needs to confront its genocidal, white supremacist tendencies.

      • Corey Multer says:

        I would spell out a rational reply to your rant, but it’s clear you are a racist pig, so you are not deserving of my time.

    • Julia Pichman says:

      Please wake up and stop telling this bullshit about a state that is “defending itself”. Are you blind or don’t you see that daily they’re killing hundreds of innocent kids and mothers??? How can you still defend such a behavior!! Such arrogant and dumb thoughts.
      How long are you going to lie to yourself and describe israels genocide as “defending”?!!
      The israeli police itself said that hamas did not kidnapp the 3 Israelis they were telling about day and night and who they used as a reason for their attacks. So everything started by just an “error”
      Beside of the genocide that is going over there right now, do you know how the Palestinians are living over there?? They have no rights for anything. Israelis come and occupy their houses and their land and they can not do anything.
      Please wake up and see the fact that Israel is the real terrorist which is killing innocent people day by day and using illegal weapons in this genocide.
      It’s really so sad to see that the lifes of so much innocent people don’t mean anything to some people and legalize it with “defending”.

      • Corey Multer says:

        Please tell me what “la la land” you live in? When a state is under constant rocket barrage and it fires back at the people shooting the rockets, that is defending itself, pure and simple. I don’t know where you live, but I’m sure that if your neighborhood was under constant rocket attack, you would expect your government to fire back IN SELF DEFENSE.

        “Are you blind or don’t you see that daily they’re killing hundreds of innocent kids and mothers??? How can you still defend such a behavior!!”

        You’ve got it all wrong, lady. It’s Hamas that’s killing hundreds of innocent kids and mothers. And don’t feed me the bullshit stats you see in the media, fed to likes of CNN and BBC and NBC by terrorist-supporting Gaza Health Officials. Complete fabrication. Go break down the numbers. The majority of those killed were terrorists. If you don’t want to believe me, go check out the Al Jazeera report that showed that the majority of those killed were terrorist profile. Now cut out the ones killed by the Hamas rockets that misfired. And the people killed by the terrorists because they heeded Israeli warnings and left a site that was about to be bombed. At the end of the day, the number of truly innocent people killed by Israelis was amazingly small. And none of them would have been killed if the arabs had not started all of this by lobbing their rockets incessantly at Israel. So take your crap about Israel “killing hundreds of innocent kids and mothers” and stuff it.

        And your comment about “israels genocide” shows you’re just a lousy propaganda-spewing troll. There is no genocide being done BY the Israelis. The arabs have a monopoly on that. Go look at what’s happening right now in Syria and Iraq. Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot. You terrorist-supporting morons ignore when arabs or christians or anyone gets slaughtered if you can’t somehow twist it so that Israel can be blamed.

        “The israeli police itself said that hamas did not kidnapp the 3 Israelis.” So now that Hamas officials have come out and admitted it was their people who did the kidnapping and murder, don’t you feel dumb?

        “do you know how the Palestinians are living over there?? They have no rights for anything. Israelis come and occupy their houses and their land and they can not do anything.” Man, you are just full of all of the standard propaganda, aren’t you. Total and utter bullshit. You need to go get some accurate sources for your information, because it’s abundantly clear that you are completely clueless! Hey, moron. Since 2005, Israel hasn’t even been in Gaza. Hamas — the terrorists that the people elected — are the ones in charge. There are no Israelis coming and occupying anyone’s houses. Get yourself an up-to-date calendar and stop spewing your lies.

  5. Melodie Wettlaufer says:

    Stop arming Israel!

  6. Ramsi Al Hashash says:

    Keep on writing, write daily if you can, but must important keep safe and eve in these days of hardship i still wish you and your families and all people in the word of any religion Eid Mubarak.

  7. The problems surrounding Gaza are sure diverse and inevitably cultural related with superiority and inferiority complexes governed with origin of people and land ownership involved. Hence peace in the region can be obtained from people accepting each other. They all exist in the region, and what is important is their interaction, for the positive purpose of human development, the economic and social development of the region. Some of us who are seeing Jews and Palestinians interact here, just wounder why the war is going on there. No Palestinian has been rejected his human rights, and self development here, though again due to the need to identity they have remained strongly held to Muslim communities here. But I bet they are happy with Isrealites living close to them with out violence.

  8. Marina says:

    Dawg,Yeah, only nine, but because Hamas is so resrtained or because their aim sucks?Dawg writes:”Tell me, BCL: if you needed to eat grass or pull garbage out of a dumpster…”Yeah yeah yeah I’ve read all about this kind of stuff. Should Israel have just sent one plane over? Dropped two bombs? What? How many dead would be the result of a “proportional” response?I hate to think I’m siding with Damian here but both sides play the same game using dead civilian bodies as chits. You’re pissed, it seems to me, because the Iraelis are playing the game better at the moment.

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