GAZA CITY // Last Thursday morning, Israeli tanks and air strikes hit a haphazard building. The tanks destroyed the house, which was home to more than two families. Twenty-five people were killed. A poor worker had saved money for years and years to build the small house for his young children and the rest of his family. On the day their house was destroyed, we were able to move out of our home for the first time when the news broadcasts told us there would be a three-hour ceasefire. Both my father and I went to the market to buy food and household supplies. We went to the baker, where we found dozens of people.
Others were out looking for water companies to fill their empty tanks, while some flocked to the supermarkets. More than a few used the time to visit hospitals and the areas visibly affected by the Israeli invasion, offering what help they could. As the three hours wound down, people hurried back to their houses. Soon, no cars were on the streets, nobody walked outside. The only noises came from helicopters, F-16s and explosions. Back to the city of ghosts.
After nine days without electricity, we had some at light and some water, too. The fridge worked again, but in only six hours, we lost power again. At night, the explosions were continuous and fear mounted. Israel seems to be trying to destroy everything with every weapon it has. I lost two of my friends from the same family in Beit Lahia. They were at home when the Israeli army announced over loudspeakers that all people were to leave and not take a thing with them.
The tanks did not wait until people left their houses. They started shooting haphazardly and a house caved in on some people, including my friends. I listened to the radio announce that Israel had invaded the Al Sheikh Ejleen neighbourhood near the sea, west of Gaza City, a neighbourhood full of civilian houses. It begins with a vegetable market and contains fields and civilian houses. It has nothing related to the resistance or even a government building. The Israelis destroyed the vegetable market.
We are becoming more and more afraid in Gaza, especially since Israel refused the UN Security Council call for a ceasefire and withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. We hope the coming days will hold something positive for us in the Gaza Strip, and we wish things will get better. We just pray for our safety. Muhammad Abu Shaban, 22, studies English and French literature at Al Azhar University. He is a translator and project manager for the General Union of the Cultural Centres. He lives in Gaza City with his family.