Palestinians in Gaza ‘anxious’ as Israel retaliates against Hamas

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed at least 198 were killed so far on Saturday following Israeli retaliation on the Palestinian territory

Gaza residents flee their homes after violence erupted between Israel and Hamas. AFP
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Much like people across Israel, Palestinians in Gaza experienced shock and then confusion on Saturday, as Hamas and Israel entered a state of war.

Many fear that the latest escalation might be worse than the 2008 and 2014 wars.

“No one in Gaza has an answer as to what’s happening. We woke up at 6am to the sounds of bombs everywhere,” Waseem, 25, a Gaza resident told The National.

"This is the most complicated situation I have ever witnessed in Gaza.

“We were expecting something, but it’s 100 per cent a surprise. The press and politicians in Gaza are just trying to understand what’s happening but there’s no clear answer as to what’s happening."

Waseem said his family decided to leave their home and headed immediately to his grandfather’s house, which is in the centre of a camp. But they are still living in fear.

“It’s not safe. Nowhere is safe,” he said. “In this house we have four children, one of them is a newborn.

"They are terrified but we are trying to keep them calm. We are scared. We know how bad the occupation is.”

The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have carried out a multi-front attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of the group's fighters crossed the heavily fortified border.

The attacks caught the country off-guard on a major holiday.

Israel's ambulance service said at least 40 Israelis were killed and hundreds wounded in the Hamas attack but the total appeared likely to rise, making it the deadliest attack in Israel in years.

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed at least 198 were killed so far while 1,610 were wounded by Saturday afternoon in Gaza following Israeli retaliation on the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the country was “at war” and called for a mass mobilisation of army reserves. The violence revived memories of the 1973 war almost 50 years to the day.

Hours after Israel responded to Saturday’s surprise attack from Hamas, hundreds of residents in the Gaza Strip fled their homes to move away from the border with Israel.

Men, women and children were seen carrying blankets and food items as they left their homes, mostly in the north-eastern part of the Palestinian territory.

Speaking to The National from Gaza, Abdullah Hammoudeh, 31, said residents had begun taking shelter in anticipation of continued aerial bombardment from Israel.

“Things have been moving very, very fast for us this morning. We've started taking extra precautions right now by stocking up on food and our emergency necessities in case this escalates to the levels of the 2008 war and 2014. There's a lot of tension among us and we're afraid of the days to come,” he said.

Israel launched a 22-day military offensive in Gaza after Palestinians fired rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot in 2008. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were reported killed before a ceasefire was agreed.

In 2014, the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas led to a seven-week war in which more than 2,100 Palestinians were reported killed in Gaza and 73 Israelis died, 67 of them members of the military.

In anticipation of an influx of Gaza residents fleeing from the enclave, field hospitals were being set up close to the border to treat the wounded among Palestinians in the case of Israeli ground and air offensives, Egyptian officials told The National.

The officials said the Hamas attack took them by surprise and that talks with Israeli and Hamas officials were under way to end the hostilities.

But they acknowledged that the chances of a truce being agreed to any time soon were slim.

Moment Hamas militants enter Israel from Gaza

Moment Hamas militants enter Israel from Gaza
Updated: October 08, 2023, 12:40 PM