"Israel's threats regarding a possible military invasion are greatly affecting the residents of Gaza," cab driver Abu Muhammad told Ynet on Thursday. "People have begun to stock up on basic food items, medicines, kerosene and other provisions."
Earlier in the day Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appealed to Gaza's residents, urging them to stop Hamas and bring an end to the incessant rocket and mortar fire on Israel's southern region.
"We don’t want to fight the Palestinian people, but we won't let Hamas hurt our children. We have a lot of power, which we are not eager to use. Gaza's residents, don't let the Hamas murderers, who are acting against the values of Islam, put you in danger," Olmert said in an interview with the UAE-based al-Arabiya television news channel.
Gazans wait to buy bread (Photo: Reuters)
Abu Muhammad said the residents of the Strip expect Israel to launch a wide-scale ground operation and are therefore "preparing for the worst.
"They say that even the (smuggling) tunnels have been out of commission for the past 24 hours," he said.
However, according to the cabbie, Gazans "are not afraid, because we are fighters. I believe the blockade will become even more severe. There have been long lines outside the bakeries since 7 am."
Abu Muhammad does not blame Hamas for the escalation. "People on the street are wondering why we didn’t begin firing rockets (toward Israel) earlier and incessantly," he said. "It is our opinion that Israel was given a period of calm but we received nothing in return. The crossings Israel promised to reopen have remained closed. As long as they are not reopened, we will continue to support the rocket attacks on Israel."
Some Gazans, he said, hope the rocket fire will cause the Israeli public to pressure its government into opening the crossings.