Gaza: Nowhere to run

by Mohammed Omer

A Palestinian boy inspects the damage following overnight Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City. – Photo: Mohammed Omer
A Palestinian boy inspects the damage following overnight Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City. – Photo: Mohammed Omer

I am writing this as ambulance and rescue crews continue to search for bodies. Among the ones they have uncovered so far are those of 4-year-old Mohammed Nawasra, whose body was found underneath the ruins of his home in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, his 5-year-old brother, Nidal, and their 29-year-old mother, Sumoud Nawasra. Miriam Nawasra, 83, and Khalaf Nawasra, 29, were found alive but critically injured. The Nawasra house in Maghazi refugee camp was targeted by an Israeli F-16 missile. No one knows why. Their home was bombed at 5:30 a.m., as the family slept.

Most of the stretchers rescue workers carried into Gaza’s hospitals were filled with arms, legs and scattered pieces of human torso and flesh, torn into pieces by Israeli missiles.

Gaza is currently enduring one of Israel’s heaviest bombings. In the last hour, during and after Iftar, the meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast, 80 air strikes were launched on Gaza, according to Israeli sources. These strikes targeted homes, streets, schools, mosques, governmental buildings, greenhouses and agricultural fields.

The Nawasra house in Maghazi refugee camp was targeted by an Israeli F-16 missile. No one knows why. Their home was bombed at 5:30 a.m., as the family slept.

The number of people killed grows relentlessly. According to Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad Al Bizm, as of today 192 of the injured are children and women, and, in addition to the Nawasra family home, 63 others have been bombed. The list of casualties changes by the minute. The Interior Ministry stated that Israel has launched 780 Israeli air strikes on Gaza. [See updated numbers below.] Every few minutes throughout the Gaza Strip one hears the resulting explosions.

A Palestinian man sits among the ruins of his farm in Gaza City after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. – Photo: Mohammed Omer
A Palestinian man sits among the ruins of his farm in Gaza City after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. – Photo: Mohammed Omer

As I write this, the Israeli military has suggested a ground operation may be imminent. Indeed, troops and weapons have been assembling on the border. Israel’s navy has joined the battle as well and is shelling Gaza from the sea. At this very moment I can hear missiles fired from Israeli warships hitting the homes and fishing boats of Palestinian fishermen.

In Gaza we all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – it comes with the territory, our territory, that Israel attacks so violently. I don’t want my son to have PTSD. He doesn’t deserve that; he is a child, our gift.

Now, however, F-16s pound Gaza as drones buzz overhead and Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” continues. There is no moment of relief or rest for anyone trapped in Gaza, as Israeli bombs target yet another neighborhood – God help its terrified residents.

Mohammed Omer
Mohammed Omer

As I write this, news arrives of a group of teenagers killed while watching the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Argentina: six boys dead and more than 10 injured by a missile which struck the café on the beach in Khan Younis where, like soccer fans around the world, they were watching the game.

Now a haze of smoke arises from nearby buildings struck by Israeli missiles. One thing I do know for sure is that American-made F-16s are sucking the air – and life – out of the lungs of my family and neighbors in Gaza. No sirens, no shelters, no bunkers, no womb to hide in. Only the dead are safe and at rest.

In Gaza we all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – it comes with the territory, our territory, that Israel attacks so violently.

I don’t know what else to say. I think we are going to die. It makes me sad that I cannot protect the child I made; I can’t protect him from these missiles. I just can’t. I don’t have the superpower to end this madness.

Updated figures: 1,008 Israeli airstrikes, 839 Palestinian rockets, 138 Palestinian houses bombed, 90 Palestinians killed and 633 injured.

Mohammed Omer, 30, is a prize-winning Palestinian journalist who grew up in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza and began working to support his family at age 6 when his father was in an Israeli prison. Saying “Words are my weapon against injustice, hate, starvation and oppression,” he reports for many media, including Inter Press Service, Electronic Intifada and The Nation, and can be reached on Facebook. This story first appeared on the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a publication of the non-profit foundation American Educational Trust (AET), 1902 18th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.