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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 19:12 GMT
Fear and loathing in Gaza
Palestinian boys running through cemetery
Many of those running from Israeli attacks were injured
Kylie Morris

In Gaza City, rainwater has filled the metres-wide craters created by the bombs dropped from Israeli F16s in a punitive two-day retaliation against the Palestinian territories.

Instead of the sound of bombing on Wednesday, there was only the sound of thunderclaps, as electrical storms passed over the crowded Gaza Strip.

Israeli solider in tank
Gaza inhabitants are sure the Israelis will be back
One woman, from the neighbourhood worst affected by the aerial assault, told me her children had been unable to sleep - terrified that the thunder was in fact a return to the bombardment which killed two young men, and injured many others.

Shrapnel wounds

Seventeen people remain in Gaza's Shifa Hospital, recovering from wounds, mostly caused by shrapnel. Among them are a number of schoolchildren.

The preventive security post in Gaza's north is in a residential neighbourhood.

Among those who witnessed its destruction are 13 year-old A'ad, and 15 year-old Mohammed.

A'ad has shrapnel wounds to his face, and finds it difficult to speak.

He had just left school, and was walking along the street, when he heard the F16 fighter jet flying bone-shudderingly low.

He ran, with his friends, but could not outrun the burning metal.

Running from rockets

Mohammed says he had just got off the school bus when he looked up and saw the jet which he thought was only 100 metres up in the sky.

Then he saw the rocket falling, and a huge explosion, and the air being sucked in around him.

He was knocked out by the blast, and woke up in the emergency ward.

He does not know how long he will be in hospital - but he is glad schools were closed today - less work to catch up on.

Returning to normal

Out in the streets, where cars splash about in puddles that reach door level, business is quiet.

Ahmad is 33, and only just making ends meet in his small shop selling cigarettes, juice, and washing-up liquid.

Even though trade is slow, this is one quiet day he does not mind. He does not believe the calm will last.

Hamas militants at funeral
Hamas activists have been rounded up
Abed, the hairdresser who runs the shop next door, nips in for a packet of cigarettes.

He agrees Israel will be back.

He says there will not only be one more attack, there will be another and another and another.

Israel has put Yasser Arafat on the list of terrorists, so that means every Palestinian is a terrorist.

Things, he says, can only get worse.

Force 17

Akram is in the uniform of the Palestinian police.

Even though he is 24, he still looks young to be toting a Kalashnikov.

When the attacks began, against a compound where his friends from Yasser Arafat's personal command, Force 17, were working, he took his gun, and shot at the Israeli helicopters.

He says he was most worried about the children, because they are innocent, and deserve a safe place.

His feelings? That violence begets violence, and he is ready to fight.

See also:

03 Dec 01 | Middle East
US diplomacy put to the test
03 Dec 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Arafat's hard choices
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