Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hunkering Down in Hell

"Gaza City residents hunker down

Gaza: Funeral in Beit Lahiya
Palestinian mourners pray over the bodies of people killed in an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya. “Anyone who survives this wave, it will be like they were born again,” said one Gazan, referring to the Israeli ground assault (FADI ADWAN, Associated Press)

by Richard Boudreaux and Rushdi abu Alouf
January 5, 2009
Reporting from Gaza City and Jerusalem -- As Israeli forces closed in on Gaza City, Mohammed Barbari joined the scramble by its most intrepid residents Sunday for dwindling supplies of food they would need while hunkering down at home.

The first explosion tore through the central Firas Market at 11:30 a.m. as he approached from adjacent Palestine Square. Unable to turn his yellow Volkswagen Golf around in traffic, he kept driving toward the hail of shrapnel and the screams of scattering shoppers.

Trapped on Omar Mokhtar Street, which bisects the sprawling complex, Barbari felt a second blast shake his car and shatter its back right window.

He saw a man lying in the street with both legs severed.

"God protect us!" the 31-year-old father of five recalled thinking.

Medical workers said two Israeli tank shells struck the market a minute apart, killing five Palestinian civilians. An additional 40 wounded people were bundled into private cars for a harrowing drive to the city's Shifa Hospital, which has been overwhelmed by victims of Israel's offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip....


Many in Gaza said they felt helpless because Israel had so far resisted calls for a cease-fire and an easing of its crippling blockade on the territory.

"The world knows we are running out of everything, and no one moves a finger," said Ahmed Dalloul, who was cooking over a trash fire on the balcony of his Gaza City apartment. "Let them feel what we feel. Let the whole silent, unfair world suffer as we suffer."

Sewage is spilling into Gaza's streets and more than half a million residents have no water supply after bombardments destroyed electricity lines, shutting down pumping stations, officials said. The phone company said 90% of Gaza's cellular service is down.

Doctors at Shifa Hospital said its generators barely have enough fuel to last through the week and run the machines that keep 30 infants and 40 other patients alive in the ICU.

Like the doctors, nearly everyone in Gaza is scrounging for scarce fuel.

Determined to find a distraction, teenagers Abdul Aziz Bulan and Karim Ali begged cash from their neighbors in Deir al Balah. They bought enough generator fuel to power the television set in Ali's parents house for Sunday's Spanish league soccer match between Barcelona and Majorca.


More from Gaza


Palestinians bring an injured children to the hospital after an Israeli missile strike in the east of Gaza City

A Palestinian father carries his wounded baby daughter into a hospital in Gaza City.

A man carries his wounded child into a Gaza hospital. Photo: AFP