Gaza back to 'stone age' amid Israeli air strikes

Residents of besieged enclave are calling for immediate ceasefire

Israeli tanks take position along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday.  AP
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Gaza has returned to the “stone age”, residents told The National on Sunday after several days of heavy Israeli air strikes and a ground incursion.

“This war, suffering and the blockade from the world; we have gone back to the stone age, and it will be very hard to come back,” said Gaza resident Mustafa Nazier.

Israel announced the beginning of a long-anticipated ground operation in the enclave on Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as “the second phase of the war” aimed at eliminating Hamas, the militant group that governs the territory after it launched an attack in southern Israel on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 people.

In response to the attack, Israel began a campaign of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, the enclave's Health Ministry has said.

Residents who have survived the bombardment are calling for an immediate ceasefire.

“We don’t want anything except for a normal life, we hope they can address the root causes of this conflict,” Mr Nazier said.

The UN warned on Sunday that Gazans are desperate for food and that civil order was breaking down, after crowds raided its warehouses and distribution centres in central and southern Gaza, taking wheat, flour and other basic items.

“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege,” said Thomas White, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza.

Since the war began, only 84 aid lorries have entered Gaza, compared with a prewar average of 500 lorries a day, UN figures show.

“The needs of the communities are immense, if only for basic survival, while the aid we receive is meagre and inconsistent,” Mr White said.

The Gaza Strip needs at least five years to get back on its feet following all the destruction, resident Najah Sahweel, 48, told The National.

“We are from Beit Hanoun and we left our home when the war started, but we don't know if our home is destroyed, because we've been told that Beit Hanoun is completely demolished,” she said.

How desperate Gazans are coping with Israel's communication blackout

How desperate Gazans are coping with Israel's communication blackout

Ms Sahweel said she hopes a ceasefire will be implemented as soon as possible.

“I pray to God that no one loses their children or loved ones, and a ceasefire is agreed upon,” she said.

But many Gazans are worried about what will come after a ceasefire.

“When the war stops, who is going to compensate for the thousands that were killed?” said Umm Taha, 42.

“The buildings and people’s homes that have been destroyed? The majority of people are displaced, there are no clinics, schools, nothing,” she said.

Bakeries and shops are increasing their prices and rationing out their goods, Umm Taha said.

“I have so many family members, and they are giving us bread in rations. How can I feed them?”

On Sunday, a memorial was held for the dozens of UNRWA workers who have been killed in Gaza.

Since the start of the war, 59 workers have been killed in Israeli air strikes.

“Sad to confirm to date 59 UNRWA colleagues, members of our teams in Gaza have been killed,” the UNRWA said.

The memorial was held at the agency’s headquarters in Amman, Jordan, with commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini attending.

Israel has shut off all communications with the Gaza Strip, including the internet, as its forces expand their ground operations.

Palestinian officials confirmed on Sunday that the second of three water pipelines serving Gaza has restarted its operations.

Head of the Palestinian Water Authority Mazen Ghoneim said the development will reduce the water shortage in the enclave.

Updated: October 29, 2023, 5:15 PM