Airstrikes, lentil soup part of life in Gaza

CHILDREN poke at rubble with their feet after an airstrike and pick up household items from the debris.

Families queue for sacks of flour distributed by United Nations workers. Volunteers cook lentil soup to warm up displaced people drenched by rain.

Life was grinding on across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, in the seventh week of the war between Israel and Hamas, with a new normal defined by destruction, displacement and the daily hard-ship of looking for food and trying to stay dry.

In Khan Younis, the town in southern Gaza where hundreds of thousands of residents of the north have fled to escape intensive Israeli bombardment, neighbours said an overnight strike on an apartment had killed seven people, mostly children.

"What's the guilt of those children?" said Younis Abd al-Hady, a resident who was among several surveying the wreckage.

Israel says its strikes are aimed at Hamas infrastructure, based on intelligence. It blames Hamas for civilian casualties, saying the Islamist group it has vowed to destroy uses them as human shields.

But that argument held no sway with al-Hady, who raged at Israel, which he blamed for the deaths and misery.

"We are all targeted. Wherever we go we are targeted. Child, man, elderly, all are targeted. In Gaza City or in any other place, they are after us.

"They are asking people to leave, and then they strike them on the road, hundreds of people."

The war was triggered by Hamas fighters rampaging through southern Israel on Oct 7, killing 1,200 Israelis and abducting 240, according to Israel, which has responded with a military assault that has killed some 13,000 Palestinians.

In Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip and in Rafah in the south, Tuesday morning brought tragically familiar scenes of adults and children wounded in bombardments being rushed to overcrowded hospitals.

In Rafah, an aid truck full of sacks of flour was being unloaded by UN workers in blue vests. People were carrying them away on bicycles, donkey carts or on their backs.

"We are 13 people. These three or four bags (of flour) they're giving us are not enough for us. We used to take eight, 10 bags," said Taghreed Jaber, a woman displaced from Beit Hanoun in the north of the strip.

Jaber said, her family were living in tents and were unable to stay dry when it rained. She said the children were too cold sleeping on the floor, and they needed blankets.

Before the arrival of the flour, they had been eating only rice for days.

Back in Khan Younis, a group of volunteers had banded together to cook large pots of lentil soup for displaced people in one of the tent cities that have sprung up, with donors providing money or ingredients to make the project possible.

"Lentil soup used to be an ordinary dish that no one cared about, but for us now it's better than lamb meat.

"We are thankful that the lentil soup is available to us, thanks to these volunteers," said displaced woman Mounira al-Masry.

Hussein Abu Ramadan, also displaced, was organising the cooking of the soup, which was taking place on small fires built on damp sandy ground, with tarpaulin tents all around.

While the soup was enough to bring a measure of comfort, even children could not forget the desperate situation.

"It's not a life that we are living now. No life, no food, no drink, nothing.

"Even the rain is pouring on us. We can't sleep because of it," said Maram al-Tarabeesh, a young girl with braided hair.

The writers are from Reuters

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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