Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Gazan families: Pulling together

With the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli military in its third week, BBC News returns to two Palestinian families in different parts of the Gaza Strip to find out how they are coping.

We could not reach the third family, headed by Tamer, in Beit Lahiya by telephone.

Muhammad AbuShaban

Yesterday all five of us spent the night in the living room together for the first time - but we didn't get any sleep.

I had been in my room, trying to relax, when the wooden shutters on my windows blew open with the force of an explosion at the top of our street.

They attacked the house of a former [Fatah] government boss - I don't know why. The house is about a 100m away from us and I have a friend who lives right next door to it.

Only a wall separates his home from the one that was attacked last night. He still hasn't replied to my text message.

He's the only friend I don't know about at the moment. I stay in touch with everyone by text, mainly. It's more reliable than the landline.

We do get a call every morning from the IDF. The recorded message says things like: "Good morning, it is not a dream, but a nightmare that Hamas has brought to you", or "Stay at home, we are not attacking you, only Hamas".

We don't pay attention to such jokes - I usually hang up immediately if I pick up one of these calls. They are trying to make us angry and nervous about Hamas.

The electricity came on half an hour ago for the first time in two days.

I flicked through all the TV channels but I couldn't get reception for any of them. We listened to the radio instead.

We have flour, so now that the electricity is on we might make some bread instead of queuing up at a bakery during the ceasefire with dozens of others.


I am relaxing, sitting outside my home in the sun. After I woke up today I went to buy bread, but I didn't find any.

I came back quickly, because I heard some firing. [Explosion is heard] Oh! That was something fired from a helicopter.

We are all looking at the sky, trying to see where the bomb dropped. In about five minutes, we may hear the sound of ambulances heading for the injured, then we'll have more of an idea where it landed.

There are four or five helicopters circling overhead, trying to find something to hit. My sister is shouting at me to go inside. [Fahmy goes indoors]

Arabic TV channels are showing children in Gaza blinded by the use of White Phosphorus shells. We see children in hospital, waiting to be moved to Egypt for treatment.

My family is fine, but they don't go out. This is the third week my wife hasn't gone to university.

I am sleeping at night because I've got used to the sound of bombings.

When there's a big noise my two year old son looks at me to see if I'm afraid. If I am, he starts to cry. If he sees me laughing or doing something funny, he acts the same way.

I have had to sell my computer at a knock-down price to a neighbour because I'm running out of money. I haven't received my salary from my university teaching job for more than two months now.

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