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Gaza Resident Describes Situation


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris. As the Israeli ground attack on Gaza continues, so do concerns about the impact on the people who live in the territory. Israel said it has agreed to set up a humanitarian corridor to deliver vital supplies to Gaza.

BLOCK: More than a week ago, we heard about the situation in Gaza from a news producer who works with NPR and other foreign news organizations. Then, Ahmed Abu Hamda spoke about constant Israeli bombing and fears of a ground attack. Well, we reached him again today after at least 30 people were killed in a United Nations school where they were taking shelter. The U.N. is calling for an investigation. The Israeli military issued a statement saying they were responding to mortar fire from militants hiding in the school. Ahmed Abu Hamda works with reporters. He's also been affected personally by the fighting. He and his family left their home in Gaza, fearing it was not in a safe area. He's now at his uncle's home near the beach refugee camp.

Mr. AHMED ABU HAMDA (Palestinian News Producer): The people now - because now they have been under attack for a long time, they're out of food, out of supplies. Plus, I saw, for the last two, three days - and I am myself one of them - a lot of people evacuating from their houses, going other relative's houses, especially the people who are living on the hot spots or hot lines where there are clashes and so on. So, everyone is really panicking from that and trying to stay in a safe place.

BLOCK: How do you try to figure out what a safe place might be?

Mr. HAMDA: Let me be more honest. There isn't a safe place in Gaza now. But there is what's called less dangerous, less risky place for the people.

BLOCK: The claim from the Israeli military has been that Hamas uses the population within Gaza basically as human shields, that they infiltrate what would be civilian sites. And that's why some of these places have come under attack. What do you think about that?

Mr. HAMDA: I think this is totally wrong. It's a war media. It's an advertising for themselves. Why? Because UNRWA School has been targeted by the Israeli fighters.

BLOCK: This would be the United Nations school that was targeted.

Mr. HAMDA: Exactly, exactly. And innocent people, most of them are wounded and killed. There are no fighters in the UNRWA schools. I challenge them if they have - they say that even they have on tube - that they shoot each rocket and they have it on video, on the YouTube, why they shot that rocket or whom they were targeting. I bet them, if they can't approve that if there was a militant or a rocket launched from that school.

BLOCK: You mentioned earlier that there's no place that is safe right now in Gaza.

Mr. HAMDA: Exactly.

BLOCK: How do you make the calculation, then, of where you can try to go? You went to the hospital yesterday. You got to the refugee camp today.

Mr. HAMDA: I'll tell you something, my dear. Now in my flat, I'm not safe, OK? If I go out, I'm not safe. I will choose the less threat. For example, I had to go to the Shifa Hospital while I knew it might be risky. But why I went there? I am a Palestinian citizen who live in Gaza Strip. In such a crisis, I need money to bring food for my family. I have to risk my life to provide this food for my wife, for my family. This is how we are living here.

BLOCK: When you were at the hospital yesterday, who were the wounded and the killed whom you saw there?

Mr. HAMDA: Honestly, most of what I saw were kids, women, some young guys. But I stayed there for almost like two and a half hours, I didn't see one single militant.

BLOCK: You saw young men. You did not see Hamas militants. How do you know when a young man is or is not a Hamas militant?

Mr. HAMDA: OK, when someone, Hamas militant, is targeted, where do you think he'll be targeted? Now they are on alert, on war alert. Each Hamas member will be wearing his weapons, will be wearing his war uniform. It will be very clear. But what I see, a mother crying next to a young guy, OK? So it's very, very clear, very obvious. You can recognize that. A fighter is a fighter.

BLOCK: Well, Mr. Hamda, thanks very much for talking with us again.

Mr. HAMDA: You're welcome again, my dear. You're welcome. Thank you, bye-bye.

BLOCK: Ahmed Abu Hamda works as a news producer for NPR and other news organizations. He spoke with us from Gaza. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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