News / Middle East

On the Scene: VOA’s Scott Bobb Reports From Gaza

Gazans Clear Rubble, Re-Live Traumai
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Scott Bobb
July 29, 2014 9:17 PM
VIDEO: Israel's offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip enters its fourth week with little sign of letting up. After a night of particularly heavy Israeli strikes, Palestinian officials say more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, while Israel reported the deaths of five more soldiers. As VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City, the mood is somber as some residents stock up on food or clear debris from their streets.

VIDEO: Israel's offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip enters its fourth week with little sign of letting up. After a night of particularly heavy Israeli strikes, Palestinian officials say more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, while Israel reported the deaths of five more soldiers. As VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City, the mood is somber as some residents stock up on food or clear debris from their streets.

Scott Bobb

After three weeks of intense Israeli bombardment and military invasion, Gaza Strip’s residents have developed a siege mentality.

People here are fearful, nervous, angry, and despairing. Everyone has experienced some hardship, some level of discomfort or deprivation. Everyone knows someone who has been wounded and at least one person who has been killed.

VOA Correspondent Scott BobbVOA Correspondent Scott Bobb
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VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb
VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb

I’ve been Voice of America’s Jerusalem bureau chief for three years and have visited Gaza at least five times, usually for several days at a time. I was here during the Israeli-Hamas conflict of September 2012 and stayed until after the cease-fire negotiated by Egypt. 

This feels more intense.

When I arrived Tuesday morning, after what local residents described as the most violent night since the current fighting began July 8, I visited the remnants of the Amin Mohammad mosque.

One of Gaza City’s principal mosques, it was destroyed, gutted, with a fire in the basement. A house across the street, belonging to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, sustained light damage.

Israel accuses Hamas of concealing weapons and rocket-launching sites in mosques, schools and other civilian places. As a result, the sites become targets.

Chaotic scenario

The chaos breeds confusion and misinformation. Some news accounts said children were playing in a park Monday when a missile struck. It’s not a park, it’s a residential street.

But it was where eight children and two adults were killed, and many others were wounded. A rocket landed in the garden of nearby Shifah Hospital, where they were taken to be treated. Hospital workers say they’re starting to run short of supplies.   

Palestinians seem to have adopted a fatalistic attitude that there’s nowhere safe to go. Even one of the schools operated as a shelter by the United Nations – which now is housing more than 100,000 people – was hit last week.

To get out of Gaza, you need special permission from the Israeli authorities. Very few receive it. Right now, all the border crossings to Israel and Egypt are closed to all but a few -- journalists, VIPs, some relief workers.

Humanitarian cease-fires in recent days allowed people to leave their homes to re-stock their food and take care of basic necessities.

But basic supplies are becoming scarce. Blockades and bombed gardens have made food expensive. Refrigeration has been difficult, because Gaza was only getting a few hours of power a day.

Tuesday’s bombing of Gaza’s main power plant will cut electricity to places that don’t have generators. Many hospitals and commercial operations, and residents with sufficient means, already have bought them. Otherwise, they can’t charge their mobile phones or get news.   

Sanitation woes add to challenges

Sanitation poses a growing problem. Garbage hasn’t been collected – either because the streets are impassable or workers are fearful – and bombings have damaged the sewage system. The stench of rotting garbage and sewage pervades everywhere.

Health officials say a shortage of clean water means a looming crisis. But Gazans are more worried about surviving the night.

If recent days are any indication, some won’t.

Basel Meqdad heard a blast Monday, when his younger brother was outside playing with dozens of children. He ran out and saw his younger brother, Mohamed, lying on the pavement.

“He was dying,” he told me and my interpreter. “He was telling me there is something in my heart. I looked at his heart and I found it was outside his body. I told him, don’t be afraid. You will be OK.”

Seven other children and two adults also died in the blast. Israel said it came from a misfired Hamas rocket. But no one here believes this.

In recent days, Israeli strikes also hit the fishing port, a government office building and a major hospital

Gazans say they feel helpless in the onslaught. But they say it only hardens their resolve to resist. 

 

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by: Pam Miller from: United States
July 29, 2014 10:25 PM
This article is not reportage; it is opinion with one or two alleged "facts" thrown in. "This 'feels' more intense." The piece was written entirely from an Arab perspective with not one word about the thousands of rockets targeting Israel daily -- or about Hamas' absolute REFUSAL to live with Israelis. This is supposed to be Voice of America -- not Al Jazeera. I realize the USIA is no more and Edward R. Murrow is long dead but the VOA can at least live up its ideals and *try* for fairness. There's none to be found here.


by: Jim Radburn from: USA
July 29, 2014 5:03 PM
estroy radical Islam. Israel must destroy the disease that is trying to infect the world. Do not stop until Hamas is destroyed. The U.S says it is a terrorist organization, so they are happy to have it destroyed.

Radical Islam is infecting Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, Kenya, Somalia, etc. The virus must be eradicated before it destroys the world.

Not many seemed to care when Egypt destroyed its Islamic virus the Muslim Brotherhood.

These brainwashed Islamic nuts should all blow themselves up and get their 40 or 72 virgins, unfortunately, all they will get are maggots and rats to eat their blown up body parts.


by: MarkS from: New York
July 29, 2014 4:57 PM
Zionism is not Judaism - tragically this cold blooded murder of people is being committed by Zionists in the name of Judaism and all Jews with the only result being countless Palestinian lives being lost and anti-Semitism being bred - resulting in the State of Israel claiming they need to protect and defend themselves. Zionism does equal terrorism.

In Response

by: MarkS from: New York
July 30, 2014 2:12 AM
Joseph - spoken like a true Zionist. BTW, I'm Jewish.

Let's look at the facts - the Palestinians are living in an apartheid country and cannot travel into or out of Gaza, with very few exceptions - this isn't a debatable point, this is a fact - that's generally called a prison and hence many have come to refer to Gaza as an "open air" prison. Somehow I think if tables were turned and the Zionists were locked up in Gaza and the Palestinians were on the outside, all of a sudden you would support the Zionists fighting back to get out of Gaza.

Hamas is fighting the State of Israel for a variety of reasons - all justified, even if their tactics sometimes aren't - and certainly understandable if one really appreciates how terrible the situation is in Gaza and even makes a remote attempt to be honest with oneself - Zionists are not known for their intellectual honesty or objectivity.

They are known for being able to rationalize anything - generally the way it goes is: Israel is just about always justified in their actions, most Palestinians and certainly all of Hamas are just a bunch of savages and terrorists who's only goal in life is to kill all Jews - actually, for the average Zionist, this extends to all Muslims as well.

Let's be clear - when one sees little children being killed - not just one, but literally 100's in Gaza - that's cold blooded murder by a bunch of butchers who hide behind Judaism to justify their inhuman, barbaric acts. This is not Judaism. Hence, the term Zionism is quite fitting to represent these extremists.

Blaming the victims and/ or saying this is war, civilians will get killed, it happens - demonstrates a complete lack of humanity that is reminiscent of any genocide you would care to pick from recent history.

Israel has all the firepower and most of the control - they've killed 1200 Palestinians - the vast majority civilians and an enormous proportion being children. Israel has lost 4 civilians and about 50 from the Israeli military - so whose targeting the civilians - the vicious Hamas terrorists or the Israeli military?

You're a fool if you can't see the obvious or intellectually dishonest if you won't acknowledge it. Given that you're obviously pro-Zionist, it would seem you're both.

In Response

by: Joseph from: New York
July 29, 2014 5:38 PM
Israel did not initiate this war, Hamas brought it upon themselves. unfortunately as in every war innocent civilians die, with that said there would be less casualties in Gaza if Hamas would not use children and innocent people as human shields and would not use violence to force citizens wanting to leave their neighborhood for safe ground to stay in war zone.


by: Ali baba from: new york
July 29, 2014 4:47 PM
The articles describe in details the nightmare which people in Gaza live. Unfortunately, this has no difference to Hamas And Israel. Israel want to give Gaza people a lesson. It is disgrace to Israel. Hamas is paid by Arabs and Arab who live in Europe and USA. Hamas leaders have their own Houses and They have a good life .the real victim are people you met .

In Response

by: yaa from: usa
July 30, 2014 2:00 AM
What nightmares do the israels live in all they know from propaganda is that palistines want all Jews dead and that they are trying to start another holocaust

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