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Gaza voices: Family fears

Three Palestinians from different parts of the Gaza Strip describe how they and their families are coping after a week of Israeli air strikes. BBC News will return to the families over the next few days.

MUHAMMAD ABUSHABAN, in Gaza City

Muhammad AbuShaban

When we hear explosions - whether nearby or far away - we sit in the middle of the living room on the ground floor which we think is the safest part of the house. We have no basement.

We live between the Islamic university and the big security complex known as the Serail - both of which have been hit.

There are nine of us: my parents, my two sisters and I, and some relatives who are staying with us. We think they are safer here.

The Islamic University is about 500 metres to the west; the Israelis destroyed one of its buildings on the first day of the strikes. About 200 metres to the east is the Serail - one side of it is down.

To the south is the Gaza governorate building. Israel has threatened to attack it but hasn't yet. It's less than 100 metres from our house, which makes us nervous.

As I talk to you I can hear the F-16s flying overhead. Planes and helicopters fly early in the day. At night, the Israelis shoot from ships off the Gaza coast.

I hope the Israelis won't invade on the ground, but I suspect they might. We have no way of protecting ourselves if they do invade - we depend only on God to save us!

TAMER, in Beit Lahiya

We felt the big attack which killed the Hamas leader Nizar Rayan on Thursday. It was in Jabaliya camp not far from here. I live with my parents, there are just three of us.

We get together on the ground floor - we don't have basements or centres where we can all shelter together. So we can never be prepared for massive operations.

We really hope this ground operation won't start. We are just waiting, waiting. Honestly, there is nothing we can do that we haven't done already. We are just trying to stay safe in our house, which is no guarantee.

Israel says it's careful not to target civilians... but 100-plus civilians have been killed. None of us has had enough sleep for a week.

Yesterday, I was reading about all the psychotherapists they have in Israel to deal with their trauma over the Qassam rockets. What about the 1.5 million people traumatised by F-16s?

FAHMY SHURAB, KHAN YOUNIS

Fahmy Khamess Shurab

It took me an hour to buy bread today. Normally it just takes me three minutes to get some in the local shop. But now only one-in-10 shops has got any.

I am a lecturer at Gaza's al-Aqsa university - it hasn't been hit, unlike the Islamic university. Of course there have been no classes since the attacks started.

Everybody is just waiting at home, following the news. Old people say it feels like 1967.

My salary supports seven people, including my wife, our two-year-old son, my mother and grandmother.

My mother lives 10 metres away in a flat in the same building. When she hears explosions she immediately runs to me and stays until they are over.

My role is to stay calm and take care of everybody. I read and I encourage others to do the same, read the Koran or anything that makes you calm.

I am not involved with the militant movements and I am not seeking martyrdom, but if I have to die, I am ready for it.

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