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'We Hear Explosions All The Time': Gaza Resident Fears Bloodbath if Hamas-Israel Fighting Rages On

© AFP 2022 / MOHAMMED ABEDSmoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City near Barcelona Park and multiple government places, one of the biggest air strikes on the Gaza Strip, early on May 12, 2021.
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City near Barcelona Park and multiple government places, one of the biggest air strikes on the Gaza Strip, early on May 12, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2021
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So far, five Israelis have been killed and dozens have been injured in missile attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. On the Palestinian side, at least 30 people have lost their lives, while more than 200 have been wounded in the violence.

Israel witnessed another tense night, as the Jewish state and militants from the Gaza Strip continue to exchange fire.

According to Hamas, an Islamic group that controls the Palestinian enclave, at least 110 rockets were fired on Tel Aviv and its neighbouring environs Tuesday night, killing two Israeli civilians and pushing the total number of casualties on the Israeli side to five people. The city's municipality opened its bomb shelters, where many residents found refuge anticipating the worst.

Night of Fear and Frustration 

But they are not alone. On the other side of the fence, in Gaza, residents are worried too, and following the developments with fear and frustration.

During the early hours of Wednesday, the IDF continued its strikes against Hamas military targets, including tunnels, buildings, towers, and underground facilities. As a result, some 500 sites have been damaged or destroyed.

Palestinian sources say at least 32 people have been killed so far. More than 200 have been wounded in the escalating violence.

© REUTERS / IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFAFlames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021
'We Hear Explosions All The Time': Gaza Resident Fears Bloodbath if Hamas-Israel Fighting Rages On - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2021
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip May 11, 2021

Ayda Saleem, a Gaza resident, says the past couple of days have been exceptionally difficult for her, as she witnessed a lot of damage and destruction.

"The situation here is terrible. We hear explosions all the time. They are either emanating from the Israeli raids or from the militants of the Strip. And while they fight, we are losing lives and witnessing the destruction around us".

Saleem's frustration is understandable. Previous confrontations with Israel caused irreversible damage to the Gaza Strip. In 2014 alone, during Israel's operation Protective Edge triggered by the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli boys, the enclave saw the complete or partial destruction of 18,000 residential units. Many are still uninhabitable today.

A years-long Israeli blockade coupled with dire economic conditions caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic have also played a role in shaping Gazan public opinion that a war with Israel was not necessary as it would only aggravate their already faltering economy and push many into starvation and poverty.

"If you ask people around, most will tell you that they are not prepared for another escalation of tensions with Israel. Many live below the poverty line. Our health system is already weak and another war will only make matters worse".

Yet, despite their reluctance to witness another war, Saleem says most Gazans support the actions of Hamas aimed at protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli forces run during clashes with Israeli Arabs in the Israeli mixed city of Lod, Israel, Tuesday, May 11,2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2021
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The last couple weeks of Ramadan have seen an escalation of tensions in Jerusalem, where the Israeli authorities decided to limit access to the Temple Mount, a plateau holy for both Jews and Muslims and that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The decision was primarily made because Israeli officials were wary of large gatherings of unvaccinated civilians but the Palestinian public took it as a violation of their basic rights, the right to worship.

As a result, mobs of young Arabs attacked Israeli civilians and security forces in the disputed city. Israel lashed out in response. Monday was probably one of the toughest days. While Israel celebrated its 54th Jerusalem Day, marking the unification of the city following its capture in the 1967 Six-Day War, Hamas opened fire on the Jewish state launching a rocket barrage on a number of Israeli cities.

No End in Sight 

Now, as the confrontation is entering its third day, Saleem is hoping it will soon be over.

"We don't want to keep losing our lives and houses. And we understand that if the escalation continues, the Gaza Strip will see more victims".

The problem is that the fighting doesn't seem to be nearing an end. Hamas has already announced that the confrontation will continue until Israel stops its "aggression" in Jerusalem.

Israel, for its part, has reportedly rejected international mediation attempts and the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated the confrontation would go on until Hamas learns a lesson.

Earlier in the week, IDF spokesman Hidai Zilberman stated that Israel was also considering a potential ground invasion and if that is the case the fighting might drag on for weeks.

"We all hope it will end after Ramadan [set to end on Thursday - ed]. But if it does end up turning into a ground operation, it is likely to continue for days. More blood will be shed but Hamas will likely use that confrontation to regain its popularity among the masses and they might also use it to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers", Saleem says.
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