Gazans' bell tolls amid bloodshed, bereavement, belated rescue

30 Oct 2023 08:06am
A picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows Israeli shelling of the northern Gaza Strip on Oct 29. Photo by Jazk Guez/AFP
A picture taken from Israel's southern city of Sderot shows Israeli shelling of the northern Gaza Strip on Oct 29. Photo by Jazk Guez/AFP

GAZA - Nearly every moment of every day since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out, the Gazan people gather to mourn their loved ones who were killed by the ongoing Israeli airstrikes that have raged in the enclave for more than 20 days.

"Since the beginning of the current 'mad war,' I have mourned more than 200 people, they were my family members and relatives... Women cannot stop crying over the sudden loss of their loved ones," Mohammed al-Harazin, a Gaza-based man, told Xinhua.

"Day by day, the conflict is entering a more dangerous phase. When the Israeli army said its ground forces pushed deeper toward the Gaza Strip, we feared increasing casualties," he added.

As civilian losses pile up, funerals are held in haste with many slain being buried in mass graves due to the shortage of cemeteries, lamented al-Harazin.

Samah al-Diri, a young mother of three, decided to stay in her house with her children and husband, as "no place is safe in Gaza."

"During the current Israeli aggression, I lost three of my brothers and all their kids despite their evacuation to the southern area," she said, adding "death is surrounding us everywhere."

The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza said Israel cut off all means of communications and internet connectivity and committed indiscriminate killing in residential areas, leaving hundreds dead and wounded.

In 23 days, at least 8,005 Palestinians, including 3,342 children, 2,062 women, and 460 elderly people, have lost their lives in the Israeli air strikes, according to the Palestinian health authorities in Gaza.

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 others were wounded, thousands of whom suffered from critical health conditions with no access to basic treatment.

The health authorities also received 1,870 reports of missing persons under the rubble of destroyed buildings, including 1,020 children.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights confirmed that the death toll is higher than announced as many are still under the rubble, and there are border areas that rescue crews fail to reach.

Civil defence crews face extreme difficulties in rescue operations due to a lack of specialized capabilities, tools, and fuel to power vehicles and machinery, in addition to repeated Israeli shelling.

Rescue workers have to redirect their tasks, from spending hours trying to recover bodies to rushing to retrieve those who are still alive.

"If we know that someone is still alive, it may take hours to pull him or her out from under the rubble, but we will never leave anyone there," said Mahmoud Basal, spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defence. - XINHUA

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