Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Eyewitness: Tanks surround us

Firefighters try to control a fire after an Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp, 15 January

The Israeli army has stepped up its military offensive in Gaza. The BBC's Rushdi Abou Alouf is in Gaza City, and he gave us this account while his house was temporarily surrounded by Israeli tanks.

Last night at about 10 o'clock Gaza time, tanks and Israeli armoured personnel started to move into a very high populated neighbourhood called Tel al-Hawa, south-west of Gaza City.

The tanks are surrounding the place right now and there is heavy fighting ongoing between fighters and Israeli army.

We have seen fighters from our balcony, running and firing rockets.

The tanks are firing back into a residential area where thousands of families are living.

People are suffering, people are screaming from their balconies, calling for help. They are calling for someone to evacuate them.

I'm inside a tower with about five or six families. We are stuck inside the building, the tanks are outside.

Two or three Israeli tank shells have hit the building, but no-one here has been hurt.

It's been 14 hours now since this building had electricity. There is no electricity in the neighbourhood.

There was some hope here when Hamas said that they had accepted the Egyptian initiative.

But then they said they had not accepted the initiative yet, and tanks started to move.

Where we are here, it's so far away from initiatives and diplomacy.

Outside people are starving, they need this war to be stopped, they are calling on someone to intervene and stop this war.

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