With a 72-hour ceasefire currently in effect, residents of the troubled Gaza Strip have gone about resuming their normal daily activities, with some departing from the make shift refugee centres to discover the fate of their homes. Many Gazans have fled their family homes in the more stricken areas, seeking residence at UN-run schools and family members in less targeted areas of the region.
Muhammad Qattawi, whose family are currently situated in Gaza City, spoke to VOC’s Breakfast Beat about the current conditions in Gaza. Despite his family’s decision to flea from the more conflict hit suburb of Shejaia, they were still being witness to heavy shelling in the areas surrounding them. He stated that at present, no place in Gaza was safe.
Although without access to water and electricity over the past few days, Qattawi said the situation was getting slightly better in that regard. He noted that during the earlier stages of the conflict, residents were forced to go more than 10 days without any access to those basic necessities.
Qattawi said a sense of normality had returned to Gaza under the temporary ceasefire, with many leaving their homes and refugee centres, to visit nearby markets and hospitals. However, he admitted many were still weary of the possibility of the IDF breaking the truce at any moment.
“The almost never adhere to ceasefires. But at this time, we are just waiting for the moment when we hear the buzzing of the F-16’s, and the buzzing of drones,” he said.
The Israeli narrative of the conflict has centred on accusations of Hamas members using civilians as human shields. However, Qattawi rejected those statements as totally incorrect, accusing Israel of trying to spread false information to the Western media. He also rejected suggestions that Hamas were to blame for the breakdown of previous ceasefires that have been implemented throughout the past month.
Highlighting reports from a humanitarian organisation based in Gaza, Qattawi suggested that it was in fact the IDF, who were the ones using Gaza’s civilians as shields.
“A couple of civilians have said that Israeli soldiers are using them directly as human shields. They handcuff them and guide them to the front of soldiers, in order to find out whether it is safe for them, and whether there is any resistance or explosive material,” he claimed.
Nearly 2000 Palestinians have been killed, and thousands more injured, since Israeli began its Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. There have so far been 67 casualties on the side of Israel. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)