Mohammed Dawwas: Seven days under attack

Gaza diary
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The Independent Online


Heavy fighting with Hamas. Israeli forces cut through Gaza and surround its biggest city.

"Very little food in the house and we decide to go to Beach Camp market. The whole family comes along, 10 in one car. This is probably a mistake. But we cannot keep the children inside all the time. There is very little in the market. My wife cooks macaroni and we eat. The place is dark; we have had no power for 10 days and are getting just a little power from a generator. Then we get a telephone call. It is a man called Shaban calling from Egypt. He had dialled a Gaza number at random and got through to us. He offers sympathy, and apologises for his government. An hour later there is another phone call, this time from Libya with a man offering his support and angry that the Arab world is not doing anything."


Israel splits Gaza in three as soldiers battle Hamas. Chaos in Gaza after Israeli blast hits vegetable market.

"There is no bread in the house. I go out and try the bakeries in the city one by one. There is one next to the police headquarters which has some bread. There are very long queues, separate for men and women. The men's queue is very long, so my wife offers to go and stand in the women's queue. All she can get is a loaf with 12 slices, not much for a family like ours. We cannot get any other food. We do not have even one proper meal today."


Forty killed at UN school which was civilian shelter in Gaza. Fifth Israeli soldier killed in Gaza since beginning of ground offensive.

"Wake up to Israeli warplanes, F-16s, flying very low over the city. It is almost as if they are touching the roof. We all go into one room and huddle together. There is the sound of fighting all around us and there is a feeling of security in being together. The telephone rings. It is a recorded message from the Israeli forces, saying they are destroying Hamas. There are two more calls with the same message. Israeli navy boats start firing. My wife's family live at the seaside and we are very worried about them. Because we have to conserve power we watch very, very little TV. When we do turn it on the news is very upsetting. It is not good for the children. My son Ibrahim is nine and he has been very badly affected by what is going on. He has gone to his grandfather's house. But the other children miss him and so I go there to bring him back although it is dark. We all spend the night in one room."


Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen resume after a lull to allow in humanitarian aid. Fighting resumes despite cautious welcome for ceasefire plan.

"No water, and I go out to see if I can find some. We are told there is some water in the north of Gaza but it is very risky going there. After driving around, we eventually find some water and we manage to fill our containers. This evening I go to Shifa hospital. The scene there is terrible; there is so much suffering. There are so many people, patients, their relations, people coming to look for missing members of their family. That evening the telephone rings: another message from the Israeli forces. They say there is a three-hour ceasefire and we should use it to do our shopping. But there is nothing to buy in the shops and markets. The fighting starts again after three hours."


Israel presses offensive against Hamas militants.

"At around 2.15am we hear two deafening explosions; the building shakes and one of our windows shatters. We discover later that they had again bombed the Arafat police academy and the presidential building. The children ask why the other Arab countries are not helping us. This is a bad day with a lot of fighting. We hear about the UN school being hit."


UN accuses Israel of killing 30 after shelling a "safe" house.

"A calm night but then there is a lot of shelling after that. We get a huge chicken. It is so big because there is very little movement from the farms because of the war and the farmer has to keep his birds longer than before. We get a telephone call from Saudi Arabia, a lady offering her support and good wishes. We hear in the evening that there will be no ceasefire and the fighting will continue."


Israel drops leaflets over Gaza warning of "escalation" in violence. Israelis deny killing nine from one family.

"We hear the noise of warplanes in the morning. My sons say these are F-16s. They hear explosions and say "that is an Apache" or "that is a tank shell". It is very worrying. We get a phone call. It is the Israelis. There is a recording saying that they will escalate their campaign. There will be a stage three after the air strikes and the land attack. They tell us that we are not the target; Hamas is the target. We fear something even more terrible is about to happen."