Safa, a young woman friend in Gaza City, shares her first impressions of this morning's airstrikes which killed more than 229 people and wounded at least 700 more. The "lull" is well and truly over. This is the most carnage in a single day of conflict for decades, according to local reports.
I've never seen anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I'm in the middle of it and a few hours have already passed. I think 15 locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza City. [some Israelis sources said 150 targets were struck] The images are probably not broadcast in US media. There are piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you look at them you can see that a few of the young men are still alive, someone lifts a hand here, and another raise his head there. They probably died within moments because their bodies are burned, most have lost limbs, some have their guts hanging out and they're all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home, (which is close to the universities) a bomb fell on a large group of young men, university students, they'd been warned not to stand in groups, it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. This was about 3 hours ago 7 were killed, 4 students and 3 of our neighbors kids, teenagers who were from the same family (Rayes) and were best friends. As I'm writing this I heard a funeral procession go by outside, I looked out the window and it was the 3 Rayes boys, They spent all their time together when they were alive, and now their sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14 year old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn't spoken a word since.
A little further down the street about an hour earlier 3 girls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a bomb fell. The girls bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.
These are just a couple of images that I've witnessed. In all the locations people are going through the dead terrified of recognizing a family member among them. The city is in a state of alarm, panic and confusion, cell phones aren't working, hospitals and morgues are backed up and some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them. Outside the destroyed buildings old men are kneeling on the floor weeping. Their slim hopes of finding their sons still alive vanished after taking one look at what had become of their office buildings.
At least 160 people dead in today's air raid. That means 160 funeral processions, a few today, most of them tomorrow probably. To think that yesterday these families were worried about food and heat and electricity. At this point I think they -actually all of us- would gladly have Hamas sign off every last basic right we've been calling for the last few months forever if it could have stopped this from ever having happened.
The bombing was very close to my home. Most of my extended family live in the area. My family is ok, but 2 of my uncles' homes were damaged, another relative was injured.
I don't know why I'm sending this. It doesn't even begin to tell the story on any level. Just flashes of thing that happened today that are going through my head.
The Arab League is summoning an emergency meeting to brainstorm how to respond to such bloodshed as the Israeli leaders threaten wider attacks.
When Izzy visited there in early November, the IDF tanks had rolled in and killed a dozen people, and everyone was glumly predicting more Israeli military action before January. And here you go.
According to the Financal Times, Ehud Olmert, the lame duck leader, is under intense pressure both from within the government and from the rightwing opposition to order a military offensive against Gaza.Until recently, the prime minister seemed reluctant to follow the advice of his hawkish critics, possibly out of concern for the expected high casualties and anticipating a negative response around the world.
Over the past days, however, Israeli political and military leaders have increasingly presented an attack on Gaza as inevitable. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, said on Thursday that "this reality cannot be allowed to continue and we will need to use our full force to hit the terrorist infrastructure".
Israeli media reported yesterday that the army was preparing for a "limited" operation in the Gaza Strip, combining air strikes and small-scale incursions.
The conflict with Hamas has also increasingly come to dominate the early phase of the election campaign, which will last until polling day on February 10.