28 September 2005 — During the last few days, Gaza was awakened from its dreams of liberation with horrible explosions which have shattered our skies, shaken our buildings, broken our windows, and threw the place into panic.
We have been bombed since Friday 23 September, day and night. Usually between 2:00-4:00am, between 6:30 - 8:00 in the morning during the time children go to school, and in the afternoon or early evening.
The explosions are heard and felt all over the Gaza Strip with the same intensity. These explosions were used alongside the usual routine of killing and destruction which the Israelis forces are familiar with.
This new cycle of terror started with Israel assassinating four people in the West Bank town of Tulkarem. On the same day, Islamic Jihad retaliated from Gaza by sending rockets to Israeli village of Sdirot. On the same day, 19 people were killed during a military parade of Hamas. Apparently the cause was mishandling of explosive, but Hamas blamed Israel and joined Islamic Jihad in sending rockets to Sdirot, where five people were injured.
Hamas quickly retracted and announced that it will stop all military operation from Gaza. Islamic Jihad followed with assertion that it will abide by the truce. Israel’s campaign of bombing continues. Last night I, together with all Gazans, was awakened by the horrible noise twice, at 3:30am and at 7:15am. I hardly was able to sleep in-between. Five more explosions were directed at us in the last four hours, one has shaken my desk while I am writing.
Gaza is in a state of panic, children are restless, crying, frightened and many are wetting their beds. Some children are afraid to leave home and refuse to go to school. Many are dazed, pale, insomniac and have a poor appetite.
Some pregnant women reported colics and some were admitted to hospital with precipitated labour. Many people complain of ear pressure. All are stunned.
Israel’s new method of creating intentional sonic booms in our skies was never used before the disengagement, so as not to alarm or hurt the Israeli settlers and their children.
Israel is inducing learned helplessness to the Palestinians in Gaza with the aim of making the whole population captive to fear and paralysis. This is a war crime and this is a racist crime. Israel must be stopped.
Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj is the founder and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP). He is also the Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights. He was born in Beersheva, Palestine, and currently lives in Gaza. He is married and has two children, Sayf & Wasseem.