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Nowhere in Gaza is safe

21 Nov 2012

Almost all the casualties in Gaza have been civilians. (c) Sarah Marzouk/HelpAge InternationalIt was Wednesday 14 November in the morning and all the HelpAge team members in Gaza were happy because we had the next three days off work for Palestinian Independence Day.

It meant we could relax and plan nice things with our families. I promised my children we would go to the circus, but not everything we hope for happens.

About 4 pm that day, I was on a Skype meeting with the HelpAge London and Jerusalem offices when I started to hear shooting getting louder and louder.

Amjad, my colleague who was working in the other room came and said we had to leave the office immediately because Israel had assassinated Al Jabari (Al Qassam military leader).

Trying to reach home

My other colleague Muaid came to the office to take me home because he said I couldn't go on my own. I thought he was exaggerating until I saw with my own eyes that people were angry, scared, running and trying to reach their homes as quickly as possible.

We walked from one blocked street to another, then suddenly a car was bombed in front of us. We quickly changed direction and finally reached my house after 40 minutes when it usually takes me seven. I didn't feel comfortable until Muaid and Amjad reached their homes as well and were safe with their families.

The only comfort is being with family

During the 2008-2009 war my house was destroyed and I was afraid that the same thing would happen again if the Israeli army entered Gaza by land. So I left my home on Friday with my family and went to my sister's house thinking it would be safer, but it is not. Only being with family gives comfort and peace to our children.

Today the death toll reached 137 with another 1,000 wounded. 25% of those killed are children, 8% are older people. A third of the injured are children, more than 5% are older people. All are civilians who were sleeping in their houses.

The pace of Israeli intervention increased today and reached its peak in conjunction with the entry of the Arab Ministerial into the Gaza Strip and the fail of the truce. Following the failure of the truce last night, bombings by war planes, war ships and artillery increased and seemed indiscriminate.   

While I have been writing, there were four close bombings. Each time I left the computer to hug my children and assure them that they are secure. Each time I sit back down to finish writing, I hope I stay alive to send it. Nowhere is safe in Gaza.

Read our statement on the conflict in Gaza.

If you are in the UK, you can donate to Age International to ensure that older people affected by the Gaza conflict are not forgotten.

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Author profile

Naema Mabed
Country: Occupied Palestinian territories
Job title: Programme Manager

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.