‘Like an Earthquake’: What It Means to Be Living in Frequently Targeted Sites in Gaza

Palestinians inspect the damage caused by an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Nada Al Kahlout

Throughout the year, the Israeli army regularly attacks locations in the besieged Gaza Strip. Bombs fall heavily on empty lands that apparently belong to the Palestinian Resistance.

These sites, however, are located close to populated areas. During one of these attacks, Muhammad Shkoukani, a quadriplegia patient, was lying in his wooden bed.

Muhammad is completely Paralyzed but can hear and see well.

Trembling in Bed

“Whenever Muhammad hears the bombings, he is very afraid, and his mental health deteriorates. The bombs scare him and he starts shaking in his bed,” Muhammad’s sister Shifaa told the Palestine Chronicle.

“When the area is targeted, he feels angry and depressed, and we try to calm him down even though we’re also anxious.”

Apart from the psychological impact, the bombings also damage property.

“I remember one time when our windows broke and the smoke from the explosion filled the house, suffocating us,” Shifaa recalled.

‘Like an Earthquake’

Ayat Al Sammak, 27, is the mother of a two-year-old child. She lives with her family near a Palestinian Resistance site, which Israel regularly bombs.

“I just want to live in peace, but when I hear the sounds of war, I’m scared to death,” Ayat told us.

The site was heavily bombed during both Israel’s wars and regular escalations.

“The sound of bombing is like an earthquake: deafening and terrifying, especially when it happens at night when we cannot escape.”

Ayat’s child, Amer, is psychologically battered by the repeated bombings, and the fear does not go away when the bombs stop falling.

“Every time I call him, even whispering, he gets scared and runs to hug me. Thunder scares him,” Ayat explained.

Ayat’s house is located 100 meters from the site. Her house has been damaged many times in previous Israeli attacks. In one of these bombings, the kitchen tiles and windows fell to the ground and the walls cracked.

“Last winter we woke up and saw water flowing into our house. We realized that one of the drains was blocked by shrapnel.”Due to this difficult situation, many families were forced to leave their homes and move to another place.

“My neighbour, Ahed, left her home with her three children. They escaped the terrible effects of the bombing,” said Ayat. Unfortunately for Ayat, she has nowhere else to go.

‘There’s nowhere to go’

In a similar situation to Ayat, Mariam Souissi lives with her 70-year-old husband and son in a small house, located only 50 meters away from a Resistance site in the western Gaza Strip.

Israel often bombards sites located close to Mariam’s house, to the point where she told us it was a “constant terror”.

“Israeli jets bomb this area over and over again, every time Gaza rises,” said the 67-year-old woman.

“When Israeli strikes are directed at this area, we feel as if the bombing was inside our home. We try to escape, looking for shelter, not knowing where to go”.

“The truth is, everywhere in Gaza is a potential target, and we know that,” she said.

Like many other buildings, Mariam’s house was partially damaged in the 11-day attack on the Gaza Strip in May 2021. The windows and doors of Mariam’s house were broken and the walls of the house were cracked.

Mariam and her husband were forced to flee their home and were hosted by her brother during the Israeli raids.

“While I was staying at my brother’s house, I couldn’t help but think about my house, because I have nowhere else to live,” said Mariam.

“I am always scared because I still remember the Israeli bombing in 2008, which completely destroyed the floor in front of us, caused serious damage to our house, and destroyed many of our possessions”.

– Nada Al Kahlout is a freelance writer based in Gaza. We Are Not Numbers contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Leave a Comment