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.  

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs