Region | Palestinian Territories

A chilling tale of being caged

The Israeli military leadership has targeted civilian homes in each neighbourhood of Gaza warning its residents that buildings will be shelled.

  • By Bilal Badwan, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 23:19 January 3, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • A Palestinian looks from a window at the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp on Saturday.

The Israeli military leadership has targeted civilian homes in each neighbourhood of Gaza warning its residents that buildings will be shelled.

One man from the Al Shata refugee camp received a phone call from an Israeli soldier urging him to leave the area because his home would shortly be shelled. He left for his brother's home.

Three hours after the first phone call the man's brother got a similar message - they both left for a new location.

Thousands of others left their homes after the start of the strikes and the psychological warfare, but many have now returned since all their "safe places" became targets.

In the densely populated Gaza, the location of a house would be an easy pick for Israeli forces.

Most homes are either across the street and facing a government ministry building or are in the same building as de facto government police officers, who have been labelled targets despite being protected under international law.

If not here, homes are located next the one remaining place - a mosque, which is often targeted for being a "known hideout for fighters."

The screams of children pierce the air and send chills down the spine.

They scream when shells hit buildings nearby, they scream when they hear the blast followed by thousands of pounds of concrete falling to the ground.

In one large apartment building it only took three days for more than half the population - mostly residents on higher up floors - to move out.

Every morning after the airstrikes started, trucks could be seen at the base of the building, loading blankets and mattresses so families could find another place to sleep.

Those that remained on the lower floors have divided the building into quarters for women and men, and are sharing the confined spaces as there is nowhere else to go.

Precisely because of this, Gaza City has not slept despite the near 24-hour darkness and the black cloud of smoke that enshroud it.

This is the reality that foreign media do not know - the city that has come to resemble human cage and a vat of human flesh.

Israel relies on a blackout of this side of Gaza for its media war, its psychological manipulation of the international community and even its own citizens.

Israel chose to name the operation "Cast Lead".

It is the name by which we will denounce and expose the criminal nature of what it represents.

- The writer is a freelance journalist in Gaza

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