Cii Radio | 10 July 2014/12 Ramadan 1435

Scores of Palestinian Muslims, including many children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip after days of Israeli air raids on the besieged coastal sliver this Ramada.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said 550 people had been wounded and 45 people killed since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza this week, which it claimed targeted Palestinians firing rockets into its territory.

At least 550 sites have been hit by Israeli jets, including Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis.

An Israeli air strike killed seven Palestinian civilians on Thursday, including five children, in the largest death toll from a single attack since the start of the three-day offensive, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Residents and medical officials said an Israeli air strike bombed at least two houses in a densely populated area near Khan Younis while residents were asleep, the Reuters news agency reported.

Bodies were pulled out of rubble from three or four homes including neighbouring structures. Another 16 people were also wounded in the attack, the ministry said.

Amidst the bombardment, Palestinians are still attempting to secure a few moments of normalcy to enjoy the fruits of the blessed month of Ramadan, just as their brethren in faith the world over.

Mahmud Abu Shamala is a teacher in the Occupied Gaza Strip. He told Cii Radio what it was like spending Ramadan to the cacophony of an Israeli aerial bombardment.

This is his story:

May I first wish you all a blessed and joyful Ramadan, the month of Barakah and happiness.

If you are living here in Gaza, you can expect to have a lot of difficulties and hardships in your life.

I will not talk about the siege or the shortage of electricity, fuel and medication. I will simply talk about the situation in Gaza at night, which is no different from the situation here in the morning, noon or throughout the day.

Since the beginning of this Israeli operation[Protective Edge], the Zionist State has been propagating that it has been targeting so-called terror targets, training camps, rocket launchers and the like. But if we look at the casualties, you will see that the majority of those killed are the children – below the age of 10. Then, you will find the women, and after that, you will discover the elderly.

The targets in truth are the civilian homes, which are inhabited. As you know, people all over the world consider their homes to be their own treasures. What about Gaza?

Well, if you have nowhere to go, nothing to do, no place to protect yourself – then, naturally, your home is your sole possession – your only place to go.

So they are attempting to kill our dreams, by killing us and also destroying our homes.

You ask me about the nights. Let me tell you.

We are living here, and I can tell you Ramadan is famous for its nights. Muslims around the world find this the ideal opportunity to draw close to Allah SWT.

They draw close to Allah SWT by reading the Quraan, they stand in Qiyaam, make fervent Duas to Allah SWT, give charity, dispense Zakaat – so much good happens.

Here in Gaza, people also spend the whole night giving Sadaqa(charity), but not with their money, but with their lives, their children, their families and their homes.

Last night, when people began to hope that the bombing will abate, and they could return to their homes, they did exactly that.

Just then, the Israelis bombed the Hamad family. Do you know what they did?

They bombed the home: They killed the husband, they killed the wife, they killed Asma, Subha, Mohammed and Ahmed, the four children. That’s six members of the family in total.

After that, the Israelis moved to kill another family in Rafah. Then they destroyed another 3 homes in our area. Wherever there is a land here in Gaza, they have bombed it.

Two masjids in Rafah, they have bombed. As I am speaking to you, I can hear the bombing.

I must tell you, as a father, you are very embarrassed in front of your children when the bombing starts. Because everytime they start bombing, you cannot do anything, you cannot sleep, you cannot even read the Noble Quraan. Do you know why?

You are constantly plagued with the questions: Am  I going to live? Am I going to wake up in the morning? You realise that everyone in Gaza is a target.

They have unleashed 5 types of planes on us: Choppers, Helicopters, F-16′s, F-35′s and drones – all of which have come to kill us in Gaza, this small Gaza.

You spend the whole night listening to a bombing close to your home, another bombing close to your brothers home, another bombing you hear of on the radio, another bombing of a Masjid you have attended, another bombing of a land you very well know.

You will be sitting in darkness. In Gaza, you will not have electricity most of the time.

Whilst the world watches television, the nightmares and bloodshed plays itself out day and night in front of our eyes.

We see the bodies, the martyrs, the destruction. This is how we spend the night in Gaza, bombing after bombing, after bombing. Close, far, your home, your brother’s home, your sister’s home – everyone, even the buildings now are bleeding and crying in Gaza.

You are talking about a barbarian enemy who are far removed from any shred of humanity. They want to extinguish all life around you and put the Yaqeen in your heart that you do not belong in this land.

You may ask me: ‘You have been through all of this before. You witnessed wars in 2009 and 2012. Are you not used to this by now?’

What I can say is that the enemy has just become more barbaric. In 2009, they would call people before they bomb and shell their homes. In 2012, they would announce that people should evacuate. Now, there is nothing. They just bomb the house, regardless of whether there are few or many within it.

Now, they just want to kill…They are trying to kill the body, if they can’t kill the body they will kill the building, if they can’t kill the building they will kill the land, if they can’t kill the land, they will kill the sky, if they can’t kill the sky they will kill the animals.

You won’t believe me, a few days ago they ktargeted – guess what – 3000 chickens! Can you believe this?

5 days ago, they targeted 100 goats. Okay, if the Palestinian people are terrorists and launching rockets against the settlers, what do you have to tell me about the animals?

I am confident that Allah SWT is with us. And I know that you cannot run away from your destiny and your death.  Everything is written and pre-ordained. We have to make sabr with our circumstances but also keep the trust and Yaqeen that victory is very near, Insha Allah.