Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip spoke Saturday evening about living in the face of fear of an Israeli ground offensive,
as they listened to the endless sounds of blasts in the darkness.
At the same time, there were those who expressed strong support for Hamas
and took pride in the terror group's ability to increase the range of its rockets, which reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time.
"The situation in Gaza is now terrible," Muhammad Abu Shaban, who lives with his family in Gaza City, told the BBC. "We barely sleep for less than one hour daily, explosions are everywhere. Only the sound of airstrikes, shooting, rockets, bombs, ambulances, that's the way it is.
"People are really afraid from the ground invasion," added Abu Shaban, who said he was staying at home with his family.
"I haven't been out since Wednesday," he said. "We have some food but it won't last forever. We haven't had any electricity for a long time.
Another resident, Motasem Dalloul, told the BBC that his house was partially damaged in an Israel Air Force strike. "All the windows and doors were blown out. So I've left and taken my family to stay with relatives. But nowhere feels safe.
"The last explosion in my area hit a four-storey residential building that was nearly empty but there were still a few people there."
'Atmosphere of war.' Destruction in Jabaliya (Photo: EPA)
"Yesterday everyone went to bed early because there was no electricity," added Dalloul. "Many areas are without power still, from what I've heard on local radio.
"No one has spoken about food shortages but I have seen long queues of people waiting to pick up bread. People aren't going to work because of the atmosphere of war. Some fear an Israeli ground operation."
Abu Shaban said his family members were trying to stay together as much as possible. "Of course it is not easy. We at least feel safer inside the house. My sister lives far away from us but we keep talking to her. She is okay.
"We are all expecting the Israel Defense Forces will launch a ground invasion – which would be so bad for both sides: Both would sustain losses," he noted.
The Guardian's Middle East correspondent Harriet Sherwood, who is in the Strip, also told Ynet about the feeling of fear among Gaza's residents.
She said she believed Gazans were divided – some think Hamas is doing a good job and defending them against the "Israeli aggression", while many exhausted residents just want to go on with their lives and don't support Hamas.
Airstrike in Gaza. 'Trying to stay together' (Photo: EPA)
IDF forces prepare for ground offensive (Photo: Reuters)
Saed Moaserji, a 19-year-old engineering student from Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, said he felt intense pride after Hamas rocket squads for the first time this week targeted Jerusalem.
"I never liked Hamas, but I wished I could kiss the forehead of the one who fired the rocket on Jerusalem," Moaserji told the Associated Press on Saturday, standing outside a local Hamas commander's two-story home that had just been flattened in an airstrike.
Ahmed Hatoum, a Gaza City resident, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas'
approach has been futile, pointing to two decades of intermittent negotiations without results. Hatoum and others in Gaza argued that Israel
started the current round of fighting with the assassination
of the Hamas military chief Wednesday and that Palestinians have the right to shoot back.
"There is no political solution with the Israelis," said Hatoum, 60, whose house windows were shattered Saturday by an air attack on the Hamas prime minister's office. "They only understand the language of force."
The current mood in Gaza can quickly turn on Hamas, especially if fighting drags, the death toll rises or shortages are felt more keenly. But for now, Gazans seem to enjoy the rare feeling of keeping Israel off guard.
"Israel is more powerful, no argument about that," said Gaza City grocer Safwan Darwish, watching a Hamas TV station in his shop. "But this strong state which all Arabs fear found itself under the mercy of fire from Gaza."