UK & World News

  • 29 July 2014, 15:13

Gaza Conflict 'Is Like An Endless Horror Film'

"Stay safe," people keep telling us.

"Where?" I always reply.

One of the harsh realities of this war is that there seem to be no red lines or boundaries.

People here are locked inside a tiny, cramped territory while the Israeli army bombs their homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.

Some 23,160 buildings have been damaged in the past three weeks, including 560 houses that were specifically targeted, according to the Health Ministry.

Most of the time there is no electricity, so at night you can only listen to what's happening around you in the dark.

Parents watch as their children die, children watch as their parents die - it's like a horror film.

The hardest part is how to convey the emotion and explain the events you are witnessing to people who live thousands of miles away and have likely never been to Gaza.

How do you do the story justice, remaining calm and fair?

Journalists are obsessed with the idea of balance, but what throws us off is that this is not an equal battle.

Israel says it is defending its civilians from rockets indiscriminately fired at them and underground tunnels used to infiltrate and kill soldiers.

Hamas says it is defending their civilians from an Israeli imposed siege that has strangled Gaza and affects every part of daily life.

The sad reality is that this war will likely end with Israel keeping Gaza under a blockade, which means Hamas will continue to resist - if not with rockets then tunnels, if not with tunnels then something else.

And if it's not Hamas it will be another group. The violence will continue as long as there is a cause.

Covering this war has been just as devastating as in 2008/9, the last time Israel launched a ground assault and I was inside Gaza.

Back then, people felt they were paying the price for a battle between Hamas and Israel.

This time, after seven years of living under siege, many sound hopeless and support Hamas (they call it "the resistance") because they feel there is no other way to end the misery they are living in.

My parents tell me stories of going on holiday to Gaza when they were young.

It has a beautiful coastline and when the drones and jets are quiet you can hear the waves crashing on the beach.

But the last few years of the blockade have been especially tough and Gaza is now a ghetto of 1.8 million people with many living in refugee camps surrounded by bombed out buildings.

Yesterday, at a UN school turned shelter, a woman asked me where I was from.

"Egypt," I replied, expecting her to lecture me about the country's complicity in the siege and how much she hates Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi.

But instead she said in a strong, sad voice: "Take me back with you."

It's simple really: people in Gaza, like elsewhere in the world, just want a chance to live with dignity.

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