News / Middle East

On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky over Gaza City on July 29, 2014.
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky over Gaza City on July 29, 2014.
Scott Bobb

By day, except for the high hum of surveillance drones or bursts of bombs and artillery fire, parts of the Gaza Strip seem unnaturally quiet.  

Few pedestrians or vehicles move along Gaza City’s once-bustling commercial streets, with residents preferring to hunker down at home – if they have one. Donkeys and camels wander along the Israeli-Gaza buffer zone, stirring when armored tanks roll through.

Routine has been upended here since Israel began its July 8 offensive to halt Hamas militants from firing rockets at it from Gaza. Now the busiest gathering spots are the 85 sites where nearly 200,000 displaced Palestinians have taken refuge.    

By evening, anxiety rises throughout Gaza, residents say, noting Israeli airstrikes intensify at night and into the early morning.

A case in point: Just before daybreak Wednesday, Israeli artillery shells pummeled a United Nations-run school compound where as many as 3,000 had sought shelter. At least 19 people were killed and scores were wounded at the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Story continues below video:

Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.

Several hours later, we surveyed the devastation. A wall had caved in on the classroom where most of the victims had bedded down, and blankets littered the floor along with traces of flesh and blood.  

Concern over arms supply

Some refugees accused the West of complicity for supplying funding that armed the Israelis. Their comments echoed those of other Gaza Palestinians, who say the weapons being used to destroy their homes and their lives come from the United States, other Western powers and multinationals. On Wednesday, U.S. defense officials said they would resupply Israeli’s military with ammunition, including grenade launchers.

These Palestinians are convinced the outside world – including Arab nations – has done too little to help or intervene. Some say they feel abandoned.

The United States has pledged $47 million in humanitarian aid, including an initial $15 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to its recent urgent appeal. Other groups, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are delivering aid.    

Gaza’s Palestinians have found little relief during weeks of conflict, and they’ve grown skeptical about prospects of a temporary cease-fire.

On Wednesday, Israel had declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning at  3:00 p.m. local time in parts of Gaza – to let Palestinians restock supplies, address medical needs and bury bodies – but explosions and artillery fire sounded less than a half hour after it began.

Israel Defense Forces said 26 rockets were fired at the Jewish state during the four-hour window, with two of them intercepted above the cities of Ashkelon and Netivot. Drones sounded over Gaza City as the clock ran out.

Each side proposes a break in the conflict when it’s convenient. Last weekend, Israel offered a cease-fire during the Sabbath; Hamas offered a cease-fire prior to Eid al-Fitr, the holiday concluding Ramadan, the Muslim month of atonement.

But the rocket fire, the airstrikes and the artillery fire continue. At night, people in Gaza don’t expect sweet dreams.  

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Comment Sorting
by: yee san from: Burma
July 31, 2014 12:14 PM
" should have to detain the ego so that become the closest to have the real peace "

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 31, 2014 2:36 AM
We are very sorry to see women, kids, older and young men died. But at the same token one must place the blame on whom the blame should be place on. Hamas must be blame for the death of the Palestinians. They started this whole fight,They provoked this right, becuz they had all those tunnels under Israel and Iranians long range rockets, so they thought the time has come to destroy Israel. Hamas is to be Blame. Once again, We are sorry for the death of those innocent people. But let us face the fact, Hamas is the problem.
In Response

by: Jack from: USA
August 17, 2014 2:51 AM
despite of Hamas actions, Israel shouldn't target civilians and by the way, this time Israel committed a big mistake when it targeted civilians. I think Israel had no specific strategy to deal with Hamas and instead of using some logical way to deal with the matter , Israelis preferred to restart the conflict by targeting civilians,demolishing houses and civilian building, and conquering the villages of Gaza.

by: Walter from: USA
July 30, 2014 9:22 PM
It my belief that the UNRWA knew there were rockets hidden in their schools and hospitals. they have aided and abetted Hamas in the secreting hiding of these rockets and arms and ammunition. I believe they knew and they would never have said anything if Israel had accepted a cease fire and quit the Gaza Strip. The director of UNRWA is just as guilty as Hamas for the death of those so called 'innocent civilians', by remaining quiet when they knew the rockets and arms were there and that Hamas was planning on firing from schools and hospitals. The whole bunch from the UN Agency knew what was going on, and they allowed it and abetted it. They are just as responsible as Hamas for the death of so called 'innocents'.

by: wavettore from: USA
July 30, 2014 9:21 PM
There are only two possible Directions that originate from two opposite concepts: egalitarian or pyramidal.
Tertium non datur as the Romans used to say or there is no third possibility.

The Zionist or pyramidal concept, diametrically opposite to Equality and mutual respect, is the continuation of what we have experienced so far or the reaffirmation of the only rule of the Animal kingdom.

Instead, the egalitarian concept is at this point only an abstraction. It would require a prearranged structure for it to work and not to become a system of chaos and anarchy. The theory of this structure already exists and more than likely would lead to new values and to a new form of government like Commutalism.

In the end, Zionists will be defined as all those who do not believe in Equality. For example, those who claim superiority for themselves or others, like who believe in queens and kings or also the followers of those Religions that still today celebrate our differences and not what we have in common.

In essence the next World War is already knocking at your door and the Conflict, manipulated by excuses of Religion and other, should be defined from the beginning only pro or against Equality.
The old Animals opposed to a new Humankind.

by: American from: America
July 30, 2014 8:50 PM
Let's see who should America support?
Israel: The only successful democracy in the Middle East that supports the USA and provides us with intelligence in the region.
Palestine: Danced in celebration when thousands of Americans died on 9/11
Hmm tough decision...
In Response

by: polarcup
July 31, 2014 2:25 AM
Once again, saying this, you're part of the propagandist. No palestinian dance celebration during the 11/9, its a lie. Some old traditional celebration images were just wrongly used by some media to play the same nasty game as you, 13y. ago.
I admit jews suffered under Nazi regime and its horrible, but Israeli gouvernment cant kill childrens and women in the name of peace and liberty. The Dove has nausea right now.

by: George Kafantaris
July 30, 2014 8:48 PM
"There may continue to be debate on the strategies of hiding tunnels and missiles among civilian structures, but there should be no debate that knowingly attacking hospitals and health facilities is not the answer. Attacks on such buildings are violations of humanitarian and human rights law and should be universally condemned.
Destroying them not only leaves no safe space for civilians in the short term, but can also disrupt access to health care for years to come, as structures are rebuilt and health care workers are recruited. This particularly affects the most vulnerable groups, including children.
Using civilian health facilities as bases for attacks is wrong; but attacking those structures knowingly is not the solution, and only worsens the problem." -- Dr. Rohini J. Haar, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine

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