Oxfam Dairy Report - Black Saturday in Gaza
Black Saturday in Gaza
Gaza City – 28th December 2007 – Mohammed Ali Oxfam’s Advocacy and Media Researcher reports on the Israeli military operation from his home in Gaza city. At least 360 Palestinians are reported to have been killed.
I was at home, lying down on my bed; it was my day off. It was 11:30 am, a time when school students fill the streets on their way home from school.
All of a sudden I heard massive explosions, one after another. The windows in my bedroom began to shake violently. I jumped out of bed, and tried to turn on the TV, but there was no electricity. I frantically ran around, not knowing what to do.
The explosions became stronger and nearer to my home. I went to my front door, looked up at the sky, which was filled with black smoke.
While in search of people to find out what was going on, someone said to me, “The Israeli jets are targeting all police buildings and the homes of Hamas leaders”. I later realised that the sounds of explosions I had heard earlier were from Israeli jets as they targeted the Al Abbas police station, which lies 300 meters away from my home.
Family and friends
The first thing that came to my mind was to call my wife and to check that my two young children were OK. They had all spent the night in Khan Younis, South Gaza, with my wife’s family. But the mobile network was down. After 20 minutes of desperate attempts to reach them, I finally talked to my wife who told me that they were OK although very scared.
She was crying down the phone to me while watching the TV. She said that she could see images of dead bodies and that more than 50 people had already been killed.
At least I now knew that my family were alive. But what about my three sisters and their three children? I eventually reached one of my sisters, who could not help but sob. I started crying with her repeating my question, “Are you all OK?” She still did not know where her four daughters and son were.
One hour later she called to tell me that all of them had safely returned home but they were all terribly scared.
While standing outside my home in a state of shock, I started to hear the sounds of women screaming from next door, people were running around crying ‘Mohammed has been killed’. I asked, “Who is Mohammed?” I learnt that it was Mohammed Habboush, 26 years old, he was a neighbour. I felt sad because I knew the guy well. An hour later, I got another message on my mobile telling me that one of my friends had been killed…
A scary night:
My family returned from Khan Younis in the evening. I felt so relieved to see them after hours and hours of being anxious. We all sat in front of the TV doing nothing but cry and feel petrified after every explosion. I tried hard to pretend that I was fine in order to make my family feel some sort of security… but deep inside I was afraid.
At 11pm, my wife’s mobile rang, she picked up the call, it was a recorded voice message from the Israeli army which said, ‘if you have any kind of weapon in your home, you should evacuate your home immediately as we will target it’.
At first, I told my wife that such messages should not worry us, because we don’t own weapons. Ten minutes later, my father, who lives above me called me to say that he had received the same recorded message. At that moment I started to panic. I asked my wife to bring the two sleeping children from their beds to the living room with us. As she entered, an announcement was made on TV that 210 people had been killed so far and 500 injured.
Every ten minutes or so a huge explosion shook my home, the children woke up crying, then fell asleep, explosions boomed again and again until I finally fell asleep.