Three Palestinian children walk down a dirt road in the Burjeij refugee camp in Gaza.
(photo credit: HOWARD KAPLAN)
My kids start screaming whenever there is a bombing near where we live,” said Prof. Mkhaimar Abusada, who lives in the west side of Gaza City, half a km. from where the IAF overnight destroyed a Hamas infrastructure.
He told The Jerusalem Post by phone from his home that since the rockets and Israeli retaliation began on Saturday, “My wife and kids did not leave our apartment.”
Abusada, who teaches political science at Al Azhar University, said the recent escalation is nothing new. He calculated at least nine Israeli attacks on Gaza since the start of the March of Return in March 2018, in addition to escalations and operations in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
This current round of attacks and retaliatory strikes started Saturday when Palestinian Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel. So far, more than 700 rockets have been sent over the border, killing at least three people and wounded dozens more, some critically.
“Israel does not have a right to go after civilians or civilian buildings and infrastructure,” he told the Post. “I drove around today to see the destruction inflicted on buildings in Gaza. Maybe some of the apartments that were targeted belong to Hamas or Islamic Jihad, But at the end of the day, Palestinian civilians are the ones who end up homeless.
“Hamas is being targeted,” he continued, “but the Palestinian civilian population is who is getting punished and suffering. Israel’s escalation against Gaza is collective punishment.”
Abusada said Gazans’ poverty has worsened over the past two decades, and became acute since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in a 2007 coup.
“Fifty-two percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty,” said Abusada, quoting the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics’ most recent report. “More than 50% are unemployed.”
He said that in the last two years, the Palestinian Authority imposed punitive measures against Gaza to put pressure on Hamas to accept a reconciliation agreement, which has made life worse.
“I have never seen Gaza worse in terms of poverty,” he said. “There is nothing normal in our life…. We want a solution.”
Journalist Manar Al-Sharif, 21, said she is scared. She tries to write as usual, even though on the ground “there are ambulances, cases, victims.”
The streets of Gaza are empty, she said to the Post
. Schools are shut down in Gaza City, just as they are in southern Israel.
“We are in our office, doing our work,” she said. “This does not mean we are safe. But our work requires continuity.”
She continued, “I just put on my earphone to hear anything except the bombing.”