Gaza Diary: Trying to Sleep Between Explosions

Gaza journalist describes life in the coastal enclave under Israeli attack: 'We went to sleep early to spend as much time in bed as possible, before the loud explosions resume. At least, for now, our house wasn't damaged.'

Abeer Ayyoub
Abeer Ayyoub
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Abeer Ayyoub
Abeer Ayyoub

Making sure the radio batteries were full and flashlights were close at hand while staying as far as possible from open windows, my two sisters and I were doing the traditional preparations we always make for the expectedly hard nights. Trying to get a full hour of sleep has become a big dream for people here in the Gaza Strip, and I’m no exception. However, we went to bed early that night to try to sleep as many relatively calm minutes as we could. We luckily managed to sleep for an hour and a half when our slumber was interrupted by a loud explosion of a large bomb falling nearby; and ironically, I jumped out of bed trying to “escape”!

After recovering from the shock and realizing we were still alive, we ran to switch on the radio to get an idea where the bomb fell. Surprisingly, the local radio station was not broadcasting news; it was broadcasting an Israeli warning against Hamas and the resistance. The Israel Defense Forces had taken over the frequency. They were calling on us, civilians, to take care as “Hamas is playing with [our] lives.” It was really interesting to see that Israel is worried about my life. Trying to figure out where the bomb was, we learned that the strike targeted the Interior Ministry in the southern neighborhood of Tal al-Hawa.

After making sure it wasn’t so close to my home, I had to check with all my friends that live in that area, only to find my friend Areej updating her Facebook status to read: “The home has gone but thank God we’re still alive.” Areej told me that there were constant bombardments when all of a sudden everything went upside down inside her home.

“I can’t stop remembering the sound of the window glass falling above our heads,” she continued.

Areej’s home was partially damaged during the Cast Lead operation in 2008-2009 when the Preventive Security headquarters building, which is just behind the Interior Ministry, was targeted. But this time the devastation was much greater; everything inside the house was damaged except for – somewhat fortunately – the walls.

Areej’s Mum said that she’s so sorry about her house but still happy all of her children are safe. “My husband and I worked our entire lives to build this nice house and the Israelis destroyed everything in the blink of an eye,” she noted sadly.

A woman sitting in rubble after her Rafah home was flattened by an Israeli strike.Credit: AP

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