The National / May 13, 2021
Israeli air strikes on Hamas flattened homes in the crowded coastal enclave
Survivors of Israeli air strikes on the Sheikh Zayed neighbourhood in Gaza said they feared for their lives as their homes crashed down on top of them.
More than 15 Israeli air strikes hit the neighbourhood in the north of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, flattening six buildings, residents said.
Khaled Almalfouh, 25, told The National: “I heard the sound of bombing. It was huge and didn’t stop, so we gathered in one room in our home and suddenly the house collapsed around us.”
Mr Almalfouh said his mother told them to stay in one room so they could survive, or die, together.
It took rescuers more than 30 minutes to pull Mr Almalfouh and seven other members of his family from the rubble after a bomb landed near by, bringing down the three-storey apartment building in which they live.
“My neighbour who lived on the third floor is lost with his wife and four children,” he said.
“I witnessed death while I was under the rubble. I wondered if we would survive.”
Mr Almalfouh’s sister, Alaa, was at the family home with her three children. She left her own home in the Tal Al Zateer neighbourhood two days earlier after receiving a warning of an impending Israeli strike on the building.
“Suddenly bombing was everywhere,” she said. “I hugged my children and told them how much I love them, because I could not imagine we would survive.
“In moments we were under rubble, I started to call for my children and neighbours to be sure if they were alive.”
Alaa’s eldest daughter sustained head injuries.
“My five-year-old daughter cries all the time now, she doesn’t understand what happened,” she said.
Alaa spends her time in the hospital, where her mother is being treated for two broken legs.
The owner of Alaa’s building, Rabah Al Madhoun, told The National there was no time to evacuate before the bombs fell.
“My neighbour received a call telling him that the building would be targeted, Mr Al Madhoun said. “He came to warn us but the air strikes started immediately – people didn’t have time to evacuate.”
Gaza’s health ministry said two bodies belonging to members of Mr Al Madhoun’s family, who lived in the building, were pulled from the rubble.
Rescuers continued to search for survivors and bodies on Thursday night.
Militants in Gaza continued to fire rockets at Israel in a fourth day of violence, as the Israeli air attacks continued.
Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, on Thursday announced that a new, longer-range rocket named the Ayyash 250 was in service in revenge for the Israeli killings of several high-ranking leaders of the group.
The new rocket, he said, had a range of 250 kilometres, and several were fired at Ramon airport near Eilat in Israel.
At least 87 Palestinians, including 18 children, have died in Gaza since the fighting began, the health ministry reported. At least 530 people have been injured.
Nagham Mohanna is a print journalist at the Gaza Center for Media Freedom