Azmi Doghmush, a building owner in Gaza, says that he received a taunting phone call from an Israeli intelligence officer on Sunday: “Sheikh Doghmush! How are you doing?… Count down five minutes and watch my proficiency and accuracy in toppling your building, but keep 50 meters away.”
The seven-story al-Qamar residential building in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in the Gaza City was then leveled by six Israeli missiles.
“He was honest, while my lifetime dream was turned into fallen dominoes,” Doghmush, 50, said.
The anonymous officer gave all tenants in the building five minutes to evacuate, he said. “I was screaming hysterically, this is a joke, don’t do it, this is foolish! Five minutes is not enough to pick up even a pencil, but the officer insisted that the countdown is running.”
Despite the smoke still rising from the ruin Monday, former tenants of the building attempted to retrieve all they could find in the rubble of the high-rise.
The Al-Qamar building was home to more than 40 residents and commercial tenants including a beauty salon, mini market and tires service store. The bombings over the weekend caused damage to 310 residential buildings, fishing ports, and two universities across Gaza, and completely destroyed 18 residential buildings and family homes, a mosque, several schools, three media offices, and three ambulances.
“My son’s new mini market, equipped with food for the Holy Ramadan, is under rubble, but that seems no less horrible than when I saw a paranoid man with only his knickers on fleeing out after the call,” Doghmush said.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that 25 Palestinians, including two infants, a toddler, and two pregnant women, were killed in the Israeli airstrikes, before an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the besieged enclave was declared.
For Azmi Doghmush, this military escalation is a “real war” and could be just one in a series of wars since the last conflict of July-August 2014, when 2,251 people, including 1,462 civilians, were killed over seven weeks, according to the UN.
“More conflicts will erupt till doomsday as long as the US wrestler Donald Trump is in office; exploiting the Arabian Gulf’s cash and it siding with Israel,” he added.
Trump said on Sunday the United States fully supported Israel’s response to a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza and called for an end to the Palestinian militant attacks, warning Gazans such actions would bring them “nothing but more misery.” He said on Twitter.
“Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens…. To the Gazan people – these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”
Among the victims were a family: Iman al-Ghazali, 30, and her husband Ahmad, 31, and their daughter Maria, 4 months. The family were reported killed as an Israeli warplane fired missiles into their apartment in Zayed Residential buildings, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday.
A neighbor of the slain al-Ghazali family, Abdul-Raheem Haidar, 62, said that he was praying in a nearby mosque when it was shaken as if by an earthquake. “At that second I felt my heart shrink, that a real thriller movie is playing outside,” Haidar said yesterday, as his daughters moved their belongings to a truck. The family must relocate due to massive damage to their home, which was next to the al-Ghazali’s apartment.
Muna Haidar, one of those daughters, held up her hands, still trembling since the strike took place. “In this Holy month? I have never imagined that we could be homeless one day, but it becomes an undeniable truth,” Muna, 27, told Mondoweiss. “They were a lovely family (al-Ghazali) with a cute infant, but the Paradise could be safer than Gaza’s endless wars and falling rockets.
“Where is Mr. Obama? I guess he was more equitable with the Palestinians. Today we would prefer the blue devil to Trump.”
She took a last look at the wrecked home and added, “The slain mother Iman and I were planning for three days to prepare beef ravioli for today’s breakfast.”