Intense Israeli air raids make a comeback in besieged Gaza after rockets fired at Tel Aviv ahead of Israeli elections. As the ceasefire remains on hold, the residents of the strip are exhausted.
“This is a park - one of the few parks in Gaza, it is where all the families and children go daily. If it was hit in the morning, it would kill or injure hundreds of Palestinian children. This is one of the few parks of Gaza,” Hind al Kodary, a 23-year-old TV reporter says in a shaky video she filmed as Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza on March 25.
When the airstrikes began hitting the area, Kodary was with her wedding planner to discuss her wedding on the first of April. Hearing the bombs she quickly went outside to report on the airstrikes. She’s frustrated.
“It has been like this since the beginning of March,” Kodary tells TRT World, referring to the protests on the Gaza-Israel border which began on March 30 2018, during which time Israeli troops have killed at least 150 Palestinians. “I think Israel wants to end it,” she says.
Around two million inhabitants in Gaza are used to airstrikes on the strip since 2007, when an Israeli air, land and sea siege blocked its access to outside word. But over 10 days, Israel has increased its airstrikes, hitting the besieged land two times with 100 jets each time ahead of Israeli elections on April 9. Each time the attacks came after Israel accused Hamas of firing rockets into Tel Aviv -- claims that Hamas denied both times.
The most recent attack came not long after US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognising Israel's claim over Golan Heights in Syria, which Israel has occupied since the Arab-Israeli war, when it also occupied Palestine’s West Bank and East Jerusalem.
For Kodardy, airstrikes are expected every time Israel blames Hamas for firing rockets. But knowing what will come is not making it easier.
“This is not the first time, or the last time. But as much as we think we’re used to it, as much as we adopted to the fact that we can hear airstrikes, every time Israel launches an airstrike, we’re totally terrified,” Kodary says with a trembling voice.
For some of the Gaza residents, each attack is making them wonder if that means another Israeli war on Gaza is about to break out.
“It was a night from hell. For me and my family, I have six boys and daughters, it was even the ones who are 18 and 20, for them it was a flashback to 2014 war,” Ashraf Shanon, a 37-year-old Palestinian journalist, tells TRT World, describing the latest escalation of airstrikes on March 14.
Shanon says an NGO, that he believes that was serving former Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, was hit three times with F-35 fighter jet bombs at five o’clock in the morning, only around 800 metres from his house.
The densely populated coastal strip is home to two million Palestinians and around 60 percent of them are aged under 16. For Shanon, even though Israeli authorities say the airstrikes targeted Hamas positions, it affects anyone living in the densely populated coast -- mentally and physically.
The raids in Tel Aviv also came amid a potential deal between Hamas and Israel. Some officials blamed Hamas for launching the two raids that caused Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, while Israeli analysts speculated a Palestinian faction that is opposed to an Israeli-Palestinian deal could be behind the attack. Two smaller armed factions in Gaza, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, however, also denied responsibility.
After the latest attack, Hamas said it has reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel after a severe bombing on Monday, but Israel denied the having a peace deal.
Kodadary fears that she will have to cancel her wedding, even though it was almost completely scheduled, with the invitations already printed.
“I really don’t want to postpone my wedding. I wanted my international friends to try to come to Gaza for my wedding but they couldn’t because the Israelis closed border. Five of my brothers are abroad and they can’t come into Gaza because they’re afraid to get trapped and they can’t go out,” she says.
“All I wish for today is a ceasefire.”