HomeMiddle EastAfter a night of airstrikes, Palestinians in Gaza fear an escalation

After a night of airstrikes, Palestinians in Gaza fear an escalation

Gaza City, Gaza – When the first Israeli airstrike struck near the Al Dorra children’s hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip overnight on Thursday, Samar Alwan rushed to her two-year-old daughter’s bedside to pick her up.

Moments later, the glass in the window above the bed shattered and crashed into the cot.

“My daughter miraculously survived,” Alwan, 23, who has been in hospital for two days with her feverish daughter, told Al Jazeera.

“Last night, we were sleeping in the living room. Suddenly we woke up to the sound of terrifying air raids.

“They were moments of massive fear, the glass fell. I immediately rushed to get my son out of his bed. Moments later, the window fell on his bed. I was close to losing it.”

Samar Alwan and her two-year-old daughter at Al Dorra Hospital (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

The hospital in the eastern Gaza Strip was partially damaged when Israeli jets shelled open land next to it on Friday morning.

The attacks resulted in extensive damage to nearby houses and buildings. Israel said it hit weapons production sites and underground tunnels linked to the Hamas group, which controls the territory.

Alwan said the shelling could have caused a catastrophe at the hospital.

“All the sick children were scared and screaming, there was a state of tension between all the mothers and the medical personnel due to the intensity of the bombardment,” he added.

“The glass in the windows was falling and breaking. There were some windows that fell on the beds of sick children moments after they were picked up. This could have caused a catastrophe and a large number of injuries.”

Children in the bombing zone
Children stand near the bombed-out wastelands in eastern Gaza last night (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

The Gaza Ministry of Health (MOH) denounced the Israeli airstrikes “which caused partial damage to the Gaza City hospital and horrified the children.”

“This is not the first time that health centers have been attacked and it is unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement.

“These attacks not only put the lives of patients at risk, but also create a sense of fear among healthcare workers, patients, and their families.”

The Ministry of Health urged the international community to take action against these attacks on health facilities and to take measures to protect health care facilities and personnel in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Alwan said his daughter’s condition worsened and her fever intensified after the shelling.

“Several children here have spent the night shaking with fear. Our children are poor in Gaza, they don’t enjoy Ramadan or Eid or any other occasion. They are always threatened by fear and destruction that can come at any moment.”

‘Like an earthquake’

Majdi Abu Nima and her family woke up at 3:00 am (1:00 GMT) for their suhur (a pre-fasting meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan) at their home in the Al Tuffah district of Gaza City.

Suddenly, Israeli warplanes attacked a vacant lot next to his house, causing great destruction to his house and creating fear among family members.

“It was like an earthquake,” Abu Nima, a father of seven, told Al Jazeera. “We were terrified. Immediately, I ran to my three daughters’ room to find my two-year-old daughter covered in broken glass.”

The father stands between two beds.  Both curves have pink and yellow bedspreads.  The bed in front of him is covered in dirt on which lies a pink pillow and a teddy bear.  He is looking out the window, which has been damaged.  The mosquito net is bent and sticks out towards him.
Majdi Abu Nima in her daughters’ bedroom which was hit during a nearby shelling last night (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

“I can’t forget her shock, her fear, her heartbeat. Everyone in the house was screaming.

“Until now, I don’t understand why they shelled our area. How could an empty land be bombed without any justification? There are no resistance fighters or any military sites here, it is just a vacant lot between residential buildings.”

The 44-year-old explained to Al Jazeera the difficulties he faced trying to buy the house.

“I moved into this house less than a year ago and the fees are still piling up. Just two days ago, we brought a sofa set to prepare for Eid. But now, there is no joy for Eid or any celebration anymore.”

Maidi's son lifts a damaged side table from between a blue sofa and matching armchair.  Maidi stands behind him with her arms crossed behind her back.  There is dirt on the floor mat and two other mismatched sofas.
Majdi and her son check their furniture that was affected by last night’s shelling (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

‘He lost his car’

Mohannad Abu Nima, the family’s 26-year-old eldest son, told Al Jazeera that when he heard the first attack, he ran downstairs to check his car.

“As soon as I got to the stairs, the second, third, fourth and fifth shots came. They rocked the place. It was full of dust.

“I was listening to my parents cry and call my name, thinking that I had died in the bombing, until they heard my voice assuring them that I was fine.”

Although no one in the family was hurt, Mohannad was saddened by the loss of his car that he had bought six months ago.

Mohannad leans over a large mound of dirt with metal parts from a wrecked car sticking out of it.
Mohannad Abu Nima checks what is left of his car (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

“I put all my savings into it after working day and night to buy it. It was my only source of income,” Mohannad added as he stood next to his wrecked car.

“Conditions in the Gaza Strip are unbearably difficult. He came the bombardment and destroyed what we had left. Life here has become a veritable hell.”

On Thursday night, the Gaza Strip witnessed a long night of escalation, during which Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes at various sites, including agricultural and vacant land, and Palestinian armed groups fired rockets into Israel.

The latest round of escalation in Gaza began when Israeli police attacked worshipers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, drawing widespread condemnation from the Arab and international communities.

A wrecked car is covered in sand, with its roof caved in and the rear part separated.  People are milling around, surveying the damage.  There is what appears to be an apartment block behind them that is intact but damaged.
Residents check out the destruction after last night’s Israeli shelling (Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera)

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