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Sunday, 18 January 2009

Trauma and terror in Gaza

I never imagined I would, but now I know what it feels like to be stalked by death. Last week, I had just arrived for an engagement at a media building in Gaza City only to find the studio crew huddled in fear and peering out of the window. An Israeli rocket had just landed, killing four pedestrians close to where the car that drove me had turned just minutes prior. On Thursday night, media offices in that same building were rocketed by Israel's air force.

Later the same evening, I called on relatives who live about 100m from our house. On my way back, one of Israel's angry jets, which have covered Gaza's skies for more than 20 days now, seemed to release a bomb. Suddenly panicking, I let go of my torch and, unable to see anything in the dark, crouched on the sidewalk – even though I knew that would be no protection from an F-16's bomb if it landed nearby. I was lucky; the bomb never came – it was just my anxiety.

But for ordinary Gazans, this is a real fear; it is hard to take seriously Israel's claims that it is not deliberately targeting civilians. I am still alive, but I feel I am losing hope. How can we rebuild the Gaza Strip once this all ends when we fear even to raise ours heads?

Our business and commerce had already been destroyed by the long blockade. Now, Gaza's public sector and civil institutions, as well as a hospital and several clinics and schools, have been reduced to rubble. Gaza's civilian population is left without any safety net or feasible means of subsistence. More