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Palestinians in Gaza flee homes moments before Israeli airstrikes: ‘I rushed to my children’s bedrooms to check if they were alive’

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Israeli forces leveled six buildings overnight Monday in the most serious escalation of hostilities since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. By Tuesday afternoon, Israel and Palestinian factions had signed to an Egyptian brokered ceasefire, yet worry remains across the Strip.

Hours before the agreement was reached, Suhair Habboush, 39, was panic-stricken, fleeing her apartment in the middle of the night after a relative received a warning call from the Israeli military at 11:30 p.m. 

“I fell asleep early Monday night and about 20 minutes into my sleep everything turned into massive chaos mixed with my brother-in-law loudly screaming,” Suhair said who shares a flat with her six children, “I rushed to my children’s bedrooms to check if they were alive.”

“My brother-in-law received a warning call from an Israeli officer telling him to evacuate the six –story building within 10 minutes,” she said, “The scene was similar to the 2014 war. We are scared that those black and bloody days might repeat themselves again. Nobody wants to lose their beloved.”

The target was the al-Amal Hotel, a site that rents Hamas offices for Gaza’s Ministry of Interior according to witnesses who said Israeli forces first fired three warning strikes, then five minutes later three direct hits from F-16 planes.

Suhair Habboush (center) in her apartment near the al-Amal Hotel, November 13, 2018. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Tuesday morning Suhair went back to her home to assess the damage: thousands of tiny pieces of debris were strewn across the floor, the windows were knocked out from the blasts and their wooden door were popped out the of the frames.

Suhair’s eldest daughter, Reem, went along to assist in the clean up.

“I no longer care about the air strikes. If I am still alive or fatally hit by shrapnel, then it’s all the same for a girl who has already experienced three wars,” Reem said, “It is like a ridiculous movie.”

Suhair’s son Abdullah, 7,  toyed with an English notebook, convinced he needed to pack up for school. Classes were cancelled across Gaza on Tuesday.

Mohammed Habboush. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

A neighbor and distant relative, Mohammed Habboush, 25, owns a workshop under Suhair’s apartment that was destroyed in the blast. The front door was damaged, making it impossible to enter.

“People are still treating their wounds from the last three wars. Why should our kids and wives being seen screaming scary in the streets? That would be unacceptable if it happened to the Israeli women,” he said.

While no casualties were reported from the blasts to buildings in Gaza’s urban centers, six Palestinians in Gaza were killed from Israeli air strikes before the ceasefire went into effect on Tuesday.

Gaza’s ministry of health identified the six as Khaled Riyadh al-Sultan, 26 Moussa Iyad Abd al-Aal, 22 Musaab Hoss, 20 Mohammed Zakariya al-Tatari, 27 Hamad Mohammed al-Nahal, 23 and Mohammed Zuhdi Odeh, 22. Another 25 were injured since Monday afternoon.

A Palestinian man originally from the West Bank city of Hallhoul near Hebron, Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, 48, was killed after a rocket from Gaza hit his home in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, the Times of Israel reported in an interview with his relatives. 

Omar Matar. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Ala’a Matar. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Hundreds of residents flee after warning calls

Omar Matar and his brother Ala’a rushed Tuesday morning to their father’s money exchange shop on al-Wehda St near the eight-story al-Yazji building in Gaza City that was destroyed Monday from F-16 strikes.

According to the brothers who live in the al-Yazji building, they and more than 200 families were ordered to evacuate their apartments by the Israeli military minutes before the air raid.

“This building is just constructed three years ago. The residents are still putting the finishing touches on their new apartments or paying them off in installments,” Omar said.

“People are in need of a peaceful life,” Omar said, “but it seems to be impossible to see that happening for more than a three to four year stretch.”

Yousef Shrair, 25,  described the scene as ” a small copy of the 2014 war.”

“The wide scattered rubble from bombarded buildings dumped across the road lanes, a thick grey dust covered the nearby rescue crews, and burning smoke was released from the destructed building have all take my mind back to that war,” Yousef said, “I pray every hour that God will blind their [the Israelis’] eyes as to avoid more hits.”

Rubble from an Israeli airstrike on the al-Aqsa television station. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Fallen debris from an Israeli airstrike on the al-Aqsa television station. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Gaza TV station leveled

In the exchange of fire over the last 24 hours Israeli forces hit a total of 160 sites in Gaza, and militants in Gaza fired 460 rockets into Israel, according to the Israeli military as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

The first building Israeli forces razed to the ground late Monday was the Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV station. Eyewitnesses told Mondoweiss that ten missiles struck the building, turning the headquarters into rubble, spattering hundreds of large piles of wreckage into the air.

The air campaign began shortly after 9 p.m. local time when Israeli drones fired three smaller warning missiles, followed by at least one F-16 dropping around ten missiles on the TV headquarters. The building has been hit three times in previous military operations.

All of “my windows and doors  were uprooted,” said Mohammed al-Shurafa who lives nearby, “the kitchen tools were scattered everywhere.”

Successive explosions were heard throughout the night in Gaza, along with the blare of ambulance sirens.

Israeli forces also struck a two-story residential building owned by the Dahair family in Gaza’s southern Rafah City, and another belonging to al-Braim family in Khan Younis. Both were destroyed.

Three additional single family houses in Gaza were given orders over the phone from the Israeli army to evacuate immediately, according to security sources in Gaza, adding that no injuries were reported in the airstrikes on the TV station or the houses.

This latest spike in violence followed a botched Israeli raid inside of Gaza on Sunday where a covert team killed a commander of Hamas’ military wing, Nour Barakeh and six more Palestinians in the al-Qassam Brigades. Palestinian militants killed a 41 year old Lieutenant Colonel during the operation whose name has not been disclosed by the Israeli government.

Witnesses told Mondoweiss the undercover Israeli operatives were exposed at a Hamas military checkpoint, later exiting the Gaza Strip by way of helicopter. Within hours, militants had launched rockets in response.

Ahmad Kabariti

Ahmad Kabariti is a freelance journalist based in Gaza.

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12 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan on November 13, 2018, 4:39 pm

    Bin Salman ‘tried to persuade Netanyahu to go to war in Gaza’: Sources

  2. Maghlawatan on November 13, 2018, 7:46 pm

    Israël doesn’t understand inter generational change and politics. Teenagers in 2018 see cruel Judeonazis bombing the shit out of refugee camps and sociopathic politicians lying. The previous generation saw a peace process and had a different image of Israel.
    Israel can’t behave in its own self interest any longer. And Israel needs outside support

  3. Jackdaw on November 14, 2018, 8:06 am

    Hamas rockets don’t come with telephone warnings to evacuate from the IDF, so, a poor Arab construction worker, father of six, is dead. Murdered by Hamas.,7340,L-5399726,00.html

    • eljay on November 14, 2018, 9:54 am

      || Jackdaw: Hamas rockets don’t come with telephone warnings to evacuate from the IDF, so, a poor Arab construction worker, father of six, is dead. Murdered by Hamas. … ||

      I completely agree with you that Hamas should be given the highest-tech equipment so that like Israel they can phone in a warning, precisely strike a target, kill civilians and not be accused of murder.

  4. Marnie on November 14, 2018, 8:18 am

    Israel Defence Minister Lieberman resigns over Gaza ceasefire – BBC …

    “Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, denounced the move as “surrendering to terror”.

    He also criticised attempts to broker a long-term truce with the Hamas group.

    Eight people were killed on Monday and Tuesday as militants fired 460 rockets towards Israel and Israeli forces bombed 160 targets in Gaza.

    Hamas, which dominates Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire and would abide by it if Israel did too.”

    My first thought was good, get the f*ck out of the way, obstructionist warmonger. Was very discouraging to watch video from Sderot with 100s of israelis waving/wearing flag, burning tires and threatening to make a noise in Tel Aviv, demanding the gov’t to ‘finish’ this, as they were protesting the cease fire. Demanding more bloodshed.

    • eljay on November 14, 2018, 9:58 am

      || Marnie: Israel Defence Minister Lieberman resigns over Gaza ceasefire – BBC … … ||

      … The fighting – the most intense since the 50-day war in 2014 – began after an Israeli special forces undercover operation in Gaza was exposed on Sunday …

      You just know that if special forces from Gaza had conducted an undercover operation it would have been described as “terrorists” (or “terror forces”) conducting a “terror operation”.

  5. Misterioso on November 14, 2018, 9:08 am

    Noam Chomsky nails it:

    “Chomsky echoes prominent Israeli, warns of the rise of ‘Judeo-Nazi tendencies’ in Israel”

    Middle East Monitor, November 12, 2018

    “Prominent Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky has raised concerns over what he believes is the rise of ‘Judeo-Nazi tendencies’ in Israel. Speaking to i24NEWS last week, the renowned political dissident, linguist and scholar repeated warnings given by Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Israeli public intellectual, biochemist and polymath, concerning the dehumanising effect of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine on the victims and the oppressors.

    “Chomsky commented on remarks by Leibowitz who was nominated for the Israel Prize saying that ‘Leibowitz warned that if the occupation continues, Israeli Jews are going to turn into what he called, Judeo-Nazis’. Chomsky recognised the description was a ‘strong term’ and that most people wouldn’t be able to get away with describing Israel in this manner but explained that Leibowitz’s status meant that he was able to speak about Israel without incurring fury.

    “Leibowitz who passed away in 1994 in Jerusalem, cautioned that the state of Israel and Zionism had become more sacred than Jewish humanist values and controversially went on to describe Israeli conduct in occupied Palestinian territories as ‘Judeo-Nazi’ in nature.

    Outraged by Israel’s killing of 60 villagers of Qibya in 1953, most of whom were women and children by the notorious Israeli commando Unit 101, known for its brutality and retribution campaigns, Leibowitz has been quoted as saying:

    “‘We have to ask ourselves where this youth of ours emerged from; young people who had no mental inhibitions about committing this atrocity? What inner motivation for such acts could have been at work here? This youth is not a mob but the product of Zionist, humanist social education.’

    “Echoing Leibowitz, Chomsky said: ‘If you have your jackboot on somebody’s neck, you have to find a way to justify it.’ Repeating Leibowitz’s warning he added that ‘blaming the victim was a direct reflection of the continued occupation, the humiliation of people, the degradation, and the terrorist attacks by the Israeli government’.

    The former MIT linguist said that being critical of the occupation in Israel today means being labelled a traitor, a phenomenon which has caused the left to virtually disappear from the political spectrum. He pointed to opposition to the situation in the Gaza Strip, which he likened to a concentration camp, as an example of the delegitimization of the left.

    “‘Take Gaza. If you are going to place two million people in a concentration camp, which is in effect what it is, and put them under a vicious siege, you have to ask yourself; am I justified in doing this? People who try to oppose it are traitors, Arab lovers and so on. You have seen this phenomenon in European history, I don’t have to give you examples,’ Chomsky said.

    Speaking about a common myth in Israeli society that a military presence in the West Bank is necessary for security reasons, Chomsky dismissed that idea saying that the opposite is true; that ‘a military occupation’ of the West Bank only endangers Israel’s security. ‘Ask any Israeli strategic analysts. They all understand that occupation of the West Bank is a threat to Israeli security.’

    “Chomsky went on to present a number of incidents where Arab leaders have offered Israel peace in return for withdrawal from the West Bank, all rejected by Israel. Israel, he told, i24NEWS is deliberately choosing expansion over security.”

    • Marnie on November 14, 2018, 11:38 am

      “he told, i24NEWS is deliberately choosing expansion over security.”

      And the end game imo is to make palestine palenrein because the israelis are getting restless. They want an end to this (the possibility of peace) and want the army and the navy to do to Gaza what the nazis did to the Warsaw ghetto. Liquidation and extermination, l’at, l’at isn’t working anymore and the people of sderot demand and end to this. I suppose they’re tired of losing a jew here and there and the property damage and they know that peace has never been on the table as far as ‘israel’ is concerned. It’s just a word to throw around for the west, just a way do dick them around on the pretext that ‘israel’ wants with all their hearts real peace. On the ground; however, the reality is much different. Israelis don’t want peace, they want quiet – they don’t want to see, smell or hear their arab brothers and sisters. And they can’t figure out why the palestinians don’t just accept their fate, to be determined by the master race of course and just be quiet. When you remove any possibility of peace and rob any measure of happiness, love, health, home and family, you’ve created an undeatable foe, one who won’t stop fighting because they’ve got nothing to lose.

  6. mgduke on November 14, 2018, 9:40 am

    TNYT handling of this news story provides further evidence that it deceptively slants all coverage of Israel, even the minutest squib, to make Israel look better than it is, to conceal its fundamental state terrorism from most readers.

    The print edition front page on Tuesday Nov 12, 2018, for example, featured a strongly worded summary of the story, which read, in its entirety: “Israelis and Militants Trade Fire — After a botched raid, Gaza militants launched a sustained attack on Israel, and Israel aircraft struck back. page A9”. Clearly this summary was designed to convey the false impression to the majority of readers who will not follow thru to the full article that the aggressors of the botched raid were Palestinians, whereas in undisputed fact they were Israeli troops.

    How can TNYT complain about the Trump administration promulgating falsehoods, like the doctored Acosta video, when it constantly does the same regarding Israel? Isn’t it obvious that the above summary would be comparable to writing, “After a failed lunge for the microphone, Acosta launched an aggressive question at the President who struck back with harsh criticism”? Doctored syntax used to make partial truth function as a lie.

    Will TNYT ever stop functioning as an organ of Israeli propaganda? TNYT yellow journalism in the service of Israel deprives the American people of the accurate information we need, and should be able to count on from our self-styled ‘newspaper of record’, preventing us from making the decisions that are in America’s best interests. FAKE NEWS.

  7. amigo on November 14, 2018, 11:36 am

    “Israelis and Militants Trade Fire — After a botched raid,”mgduke

    CNN (Europe) has gone one step beyond that level of dishonesty.
    Having started out by mentioning the Botched raid (incursion into someone else,s sovereign territory. my addition ),they dropped any reference to Israel,s illegal infiltration and mislead their readers into believing the Palestinians initiated the attack.Presumably they came under pressure (a quick phone call from interested parties) and bingo , Israel is the victim of Palestinian terrorism and how can you make peace with these people.

    I don,t have access to CNN USA but I bet my bottom dollar that CNN US viewers are unaware of any Israeli raid.

    They will have been treated to endless re runs of a bus attack and rockets raining down on poor innocent Jews just trying to get on with their lives.

    CNN is suing trump for denying access to the WH toJim Acosta for asking tough questions —funny coming from a network who never allows any tough questions about Israel and it,s actions in Occupied Palestine.

    No surprise there, as I find it difficult to get the opinion of a Non Jewish person on CNN.

    Wolf Blitzer,David Axelrod,Gloria Borger,Anderson Cooper,Geoffrey Toobin,John King , etc etc.

    Fox news is accused of being pro Trump, (rightly so) but dare anyone accuse CNN of being biased in favour of Israel.

    • RoHa on November 14, 2018, 9:32 pm

      I was astonished to hear ABC* radio news say that the Gaza militants were responding to an Israeli raid. Official mainstream news here usually takes the Israeli line.

      (*The real ABC.)

  8. Elizabeth Block on November 14, 2018, 12:32 pm

    When Israel attacks Gaza it is not a war. It is an assault.

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