After 36 hours stuck in the hotel while bombs fell all around, shaking the entire building, today we made it out for a few hours to survey the damage.
Shells are still falling, drones still fill the sky.
Some time before we left the hotel, a car was attacked on Al Nasra street, the main road from Gaza City to the South. The two people inside were killed.
This brings the known death toll in Gaza to 54 since the ceasefire broke on Tuesday. Some of the scenes of death and injury:
- Three Qassam Brigade leaders killed by Israeli missiles in Rafah
- Two civilians killed by Israeli drone missiles in Beit Lahia
- A group of civilians injured when Israeli drones bombed the Jordanian Hospital in Gaza City
- A baby was killed during an air assault in Rafah
- The wife, daughter and son of Hamas leader Mohammed Al Deif were target and killed in their home just a few blocks from my hotel. Israeli missiles reduced the tall apartment block to a pile of dust and stones.
- There have been mass deaths in Rafah and Khan Younis in the South. Israeli F-16s have been flying in from Egyptian airspace and conducting carpet bombing of the towns. Ambulances were unable to get through to support or evacuate the injured and dead.
This is still ongoing. People are dying up and down the strip, the bombing is relentless.
We visited Al Shifa hospital, ambulances were arriving and dropping off dead and wounded every few minutes. There was blood everywhere. A group of women passed me, all of them in tears. A man carried his catatonic son over his shoulder and ran into the hospital. A man with apparent shell shock wandered around aimlessly with a vacant expression. The tent city in the ground was notably more full than our last visit just days ago – men with one leg, men with no legs, men with broken legs stretched out in the sun.
The shells continue to fall, F-16s continue to drop their munitions, drones continue to launch missiles all across the Strip. I was awoken at 6am by a strike so close and powerful it made the hotel swing forward and back in the blast pulse as if it were made of rubber.
A building on the street, not 100 yards from the hotel, was destroyed.
I fail to see the military value of these targets. It feels more like a terror campaign to beat any notion of statehood out of Gaza’s population.
Needless to say we were relieved to get back to the hotel without incident. But this is the scene here right now.
And so it continues with no end in sight for Gaza’s 1.8 million residents, who are under constant bombardment. Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu told the world’s media, he is “determined to continue the campaign with all means and as is needed.”
“We will not stop until we secure full security and quiet for the residents of the south and all citizens of Israel.” he said
What this means, is Netanyahu will do whatever it takes to quash all resistance to occupation in the Gaza Strip. Given the indefatigable, un-extinguishable spirit of the Palestinians – I fear this means we are in the final days, weeks, and months of reckoning for this beautiful, yet beleaguered piece of our world.
Gaza, 21 August 2014