Israeli airstrikes in Gaza are snatching homes and dreams from Palestinian families.
Thirty minutes. That’s the time people in besieged Gaza have to collect their kids, photo albums, diapers, baby food, water bottles or whatever they can get their hands on before their homes are reduced to rubble. Many of them make it out with just their pajamas and slippers - you have to be careful about the glass shards from the previous raid.
As Israeli jets continue to target residential apartment buildings, some Palestinian families are sharing tales of horror and loss.
“They bombed two apartment buildings next to ours. My husband and three kids barely made out. They didn’t take anything with them,” says Youmna ElSayed, a journalist and mother of four.
She shared pictures and videos with TRT World that show a smoking pile of concrete and steel that once used to be a multi-story apartment complex on Mokhabrat Street in the Nasser neighborhood. The buildings were targeted on Wednesday afternoon.
“We spent last night under the dining table because it was the largest and safest thing we could keep our children under,” she told TRT World over the phone.
ElSayed has worked for TRT World as a freelance journalist.
More than 50 people, many of them civilians, have been killed since Israel started to bomb Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for 14 years.
Up until now, Israeli officials have called the owners of apartment complexes, which are being hit by the Israeli military. Residents in the particular building and the area surrounding it are given between half and one hour to get out.
“People are running out in their pajamas. Because Muslim women use veils, they just put on their prayer gowns and come down to the streets,” says ElSayed.
“See the pictures that are being shared and I dare you to find one in which you see anyone dressed up or holding a bag.”
Israel claims that its air raids target areas that are used by Hamas and other armed groups to fire rockets into Israel. Such claims made in the past have been refuted by rights groups such as Amnesty International. And ElSayed says nothing can be further from truth.
“They are targeting every government building in the Gaza Strip even if the buildings are residential apartments where civilian employees of say the interior affairs or civil defence reside.”
What Israel wants to achieve with the relentless bombardment of homes and public infrastructure is to create panic and cause general hardship, she says.
“They think that by doing so they can force people to come out of their homes and ask the resistance to stop firing the rockets.” Instead the Israeli attacks are only cementing the resolve of Palestinian people to stand their ground.
ElSayed, who is an Egyptian, met her Palestinian husband while they were studying in South Africa. They moved to Gaza seven years ago with the hope of building a safe future for themselves and their kids.
“Who wants to live in a warzone? But honestly living here and seeing the suffering of the Palestinian people, I have realised the western media is not showing the reality to the world,” she says.
“That's why I am here. I am taking pictures and making videos. I want the world to see the truth. They must know Palestinians are not terrorists and the air raids are hurting kids and civilians.”
When the Israeli bombs struck the building next to ElSayed’s home, she was out in the field doing her job in another neighbourhood. “My husband and kids have moved to a friend’s place down the street.”
She’s still out there somewhere in Gaza, reporting.