Eyewitness: Carnage in Gaza

Today I have seen people shot before my eyes, I heard the screams of terrified women and children.

May 16, 2007 21:03
2 minute read.
gaza fatah 298 ap

gaza fatah 298 ap. (photo credit: AP)

With battles raging outside my building and my windows blown out by bullets, I sit in a dark hallway outside my apartment with my wife and baby. It's dangerous inside and outside. Today I have seen people shot before my eyes, I heard the screams of terrified women and children in a burning building, and I argued with gunmen who wanted to take over my home. I have seen a lot in my years as a journalist in Gaza, but this is the worst it's been. Much of the fighting is taking place right here in my neighborhood. I went outside a few times to report, just around the house. I saw a building on fire after Hamas gunmen attacked, and I heard the screams of people who could not get out because of the gun battles. My building is across from a Palestinian government complex, and both sides are fighting for control of the area. They're taking over rooftops. My apartment is on the top floor of this five-story building. This morning some Fatah gunmen tried to force their way into my apartment so they could shoot from my windows, overlooking the Palestinian government compound. I had an argument with them, and they left. There have been clashes between Hamas and Fatah before, but there are dangerous new elements this time. Now they are arresting or even shooting people for the way they look. If you have a beard, you might be arrested by Fatah security for looking Islamic. If you have a chain around your neck or on your arm, Hamas gunmen might shoot you because you look secular. The random use of weapons and explosives is out of control. People who consider themselves the elite, the politicians, sit with the Egyptian mediators at night and then come out with statements about a truce, and in the morning we see the opposite has occurred. These people are not controlling anything. I saw several people shot right in front of my home today. I'm preparing myself for even worse violence. Right now there are three couples, neighbors, sitting here on the floor. It's dark because there is no electricity. We are chatting, trying to calm ourselves over the crazy clashes and the sounds of heavy gunfire and explosions, which have not let up since 2 a.m. in our neighborhood. Each of us has a baby, and they're playing. My baby, Hikmet, is nine-months old. I'm astonished by his behavior. In the morning he was scared by the gunfire and he cried and called "mama," which is his first word. Then he fell asleep for three hours. Since he woke up, he's been calm despite all the shooting. Tuesday was my 30th birthday. I was born on "al-Naqba" day, "the catastrophe," as Palestinians refer to the creation of Israel. I'm afraid a catastrophe is happening now.

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