I fear an outbreak of disease in Gaza

Gaza’s healthcare system is overstretched and under attack. 

Saeed Jaras APA images

After a night of aggressive bombing, my father and I decided to leave our house. It was a dangerous and unusual step.

Since our house is located in a pivotal area, near schools and a hospital which became shelters to people forced from their home, we decided to enter the hospital. There, we could have a closer look at the situation faced by displaced people.

Tragic scenes immediately confronted us. There were people sleeping on the streets and sidewalks.

The “lucky” among them have made tents from threadbare pieces of cloth to shelter themselves and their families.

Most worrying, though, were the unsanitary conditions. The situation was so bad that I fear there will be a major outbreak of disease.

You can’t imagine how much rubbish is now piled up because of the high population in this very small area. This reality is extremely life-threatening, especially for children and infants.

Another heartbreaking scene I witnessed was the long queues in front of the bakery. You need to stand for at least three hours to buy some bread.

This suffering increases day by day.

There’s no solution on the horizon to end it.

Screams in the dark

I was chatting to my auntie when a very loud bombing sound occurred.

That was followed by multiple bombs.

Everything in my home started breaking – doors, windows, shelves and photo frames.

My auntie and I hugged each other and started screaming.

In a few seconds, our home was covered in darkness.

The dust from at least six bombs blocked my vision and clogged my breath.

I started shouting the names of my brother and father who were upstairs. I knew they were still alive, thank God.

We ran outside the house thinking we’d get some air to breathe, but more dust filled the air outside, along with rubble.

We were literally being suffocated. The air was so filled with dust particles that I still can’t believe we survived.

The smoke started spreading over a wider distance and eventually we had a slightly clearer idea of what had happened.

Three houses in the neighborhood had been bombarded. Not only the residents were inside, but so too were their relatives who had sought shelter in our neighbor’s big house.

They were seeking safety, but instead they were killed.

I walked away for some time to try to catch my breath. Then I walked back trying to understand what had just happened.

I found our house with no windows or doors and broken furniture covered in black.

I cannot get this death scene out of my mind.

I’m still stuck in that moment. That moment of fear, panic and horror.

Where is peace and humanity?

Alaa Abu Shammala is a dentist in Gaza.