Phone Call Tells Gazans to Get Out; Missiles Hit Minutes Later
(JABALIYA, Gaza) — Anger boiled over in Gaza on Monday as the death toll passed 100 and the civilian casualties mounted. Volleys of Palestinian militant rockets flew into Israel as Israeli drones buzzed endlessly overhead and warplanes streaked through the air to unleash missile strikes.
As Israel comes under fierce criticism for the bombing of a home on Sunday that killed 11, including nine from a single family, it is emphasizing how careful it has been in striking its targets. It has released videos from drone cameras, highlighting conversations between drone pilots that show them waiting until civilians are gone to carry out their strikes. Leaflets have been dropped and Hamas’ radio station was taken over by Israel to issue warnings.
And in the Jabaliya refugee camp, a phone call to a four-story building caused a mass evacuation on Sunday. A voice told Fateh Nasser he and everyone in the building had five minutes to get out.
The 40 people inside did not hesitate. And right on schedule, an Israeli missile flattened the building.
Israel says it has been careful about all its strikes, and its missiles have been accurate.
But Nasser and others who were standing outside the demolished building Monday claim they were not aware of any militants in the building.
“This house consists of five families with high number of children,” Nasser told ABC News.
Nearby, kids were sweeping up debris on the dusty street and men sat on street corners. Most of the homes and shops were locked up tight. The atmosphere is punctuated with the steady hum of Israeli drones, the whoosh of rockets taking off and heading for Israel, and the blasts of incoming Israeli missiles and artillery from Israeli ships at sea.
During ABC News’ interview in Jabaliya, an explosion from an Israeli missile went off close by.
Mohammed Matar, 30, an architect who has a young daughter, said he was furious at the extent of Israel’s collateral damage.
“It was like hell. It’s war. They bombed everywhere. They say in their news that they’re just attacking like kind of Hamas people or something. It’s wrong. They’re attacking children everywhere,” Matar said.
He scoffed at Israel’s claim they are firing in self-defense.
“Look, I mean, everyone has the right to defend himself. They are saying that they’re defending their selves. Of what? Of rockets. They have no missiles in them. It’s an empty rocket. It’s just a kind of tube kind of going and doing nothing. But it’s our way of defense. We have nothing,” Matar said.
“I have only one kid, a little girl, and I want her to live in peace. I want her to live in Palestine. We have the right to defense ourselves. No one wants war, no one….But what kind of peace we need, that is the question,” he said.
A Palestinian man at a Gaza hospital Monday was more blunt as dead bodies were brought out for funerals. The bodies included some of the nine members of the Daloo family who died Sunday when the Israeli missile destroyed the building in which they had been.
When asked whether he thought the toll on civilians, particularly children, was too high and Hamas and its allies should stop firing rockets at Israel, he replied that the victims included a woman in her 70s and a 4-year-old child.
“All the Israeli media said that there are fighters inside the house, but we are from the family. We’re denying totally that there is a fighter inside the house that was bombarded,” he said.
“And we ask all the groups to retaliate for these massacres and we believe now we shouldn’t talk about ceasefire at all,” he said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio