December 29 2008
On Saturday Gazan school children were supposed to be sitting their exams - schools should have been full. This is exam time but instead of sitting at their desks children hide in their homes. The intensity of the bombing is affecting me – but I’m a grown man so what about the children? I can see how my nephews and nieces are being affected. Tala, my youngest niece, is only five years old – when she hears the explosions she rushes to her mothers lap – both mother and daughter are terrified. A lot of the time parents try telling their children that the bombing is the sound of thunder – but Gazan children are not ordinary children –they know bombing when they hear it.
The panic caused by the strikes and the shelling from the sky and the sea has an immense impact on the psychology of Gazan children. Islamic Relief has been running a project in Gaza for a number of years trying to deal with psychological trauma suffered by children. The program has taken many steps forward – however the current bombing means we will have to start all over again – sadly I feel the need for counselling will be greater.
The security situation is getting worse. My colleagues and I make sure we walk to our office – going by car is far too dangerous. We phone the office as soon as we step out of our houses. Then along the way we phone the office about four times at specific points – we do this so they know we are safe. Once we get to the office we ring our families to tell them we have made it safely. This is what life in Gaza is like these days. Even a simple walk to work could be life threatening. This is why most of the shops and businesses are closed – the safest place to be – if there is one – is indoors. But as humanitarian workers we have to be out in the community, our job is to help people.
We are now communicating with suppliers outside of the Gaza Strip. We are trying to prepare for what lies ahead in the coming days. We do not know if the bombing will stop or if it will get worse – but we have to prepared - and unfortunately that means preparing for the worst.