Reporter for The Daily Beast Narrowly Escapes Airstrike on Home in Gaza City

A contributor for The Daily Beast left their home in Gaza City this week just hours before an airstrike struck their neighborhood, damaging their apartment and reducing other buildings near the area to rubble.

The journalist, whose name has been withheld for their safety, described the experience to The Daily Beast as a “night from hell.”

The Gaza resident had moved to five different locations across the enclave with their family since Israeli airstrikes began pummeling the region two weeks ago, in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. Eventually, they decided to go back to their home in Gaza City due to overcrowding and lack of water and electricity at their relatives’ homes in the south of the enclave.

“Our house has an underground well and solar energy so we decided to go back, even if it was risky,” they told The Daily Beast.

On a whim, the Palestinian journalist decided to spend Monday night in a cultural center near their home, where hundreds of other refugees are sheltering in northern Gaza.

But around 11 p.m., “huge strikes” hit the neighborhood and “the sky turned an eerie orange and the ground shook with massive explosions,” they wrote in a message, describing what they witnessed from the shelter that night.

“Shrapnel was flying all over the place. Things got even scarier. Debris was hitting people, and we could smell gas in the air. It was chaos, and we couldn’t make heads or tails of it. All we could do was pray to see another day. I forgot that I was a journalist. I was crying, screaming, praying and terrified like the men, women, grandmothers, infants and children surrounding me,” they wrote.

Hundreds of Palestinians taking refuge at a cultural center in Gaza City joining in a communal prayer.

Hundreds of Palestinians taking refuge at a cultural center in Gaza City joining in a communal prayer.

Handout/The Daily Beast

The journalist said the strikes went on until roughly 3 a.m., and started back up again at 7 a.m. for about an hour and a half. Eventually, “I somehow managed to find a brave driver who brought us to the south of Gaza.”

“In the middle of all this, we were lucky to have friends who let us stay in a new building that’s still under construction. It’s not perfect, but it’s a safe place where we can at least wash our clothes by hand and brush our teeth. We were the luckiest to find a source of water,” they wrote.

Ticking Clock

Around the time of the airstrike incident, the journalist was on assignment for The Daily Beast, reporting on aid deliveries to Gaza through the Rahah border crossing with Egypt.

While dozens of humanitarian aid trucks have entered Gaza through the crossing this week, the Director-General of the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza, Munir Al-Bursh, said that much of the aid has not yet been distributed to civilians.

He explained that after the aid deliveries enter through the Rafah crossing, they must be transported to the Kafr Abu Salem crossing to be inspected by Israeli authorities before distribution.

The aid currently entering Gaza is insufficient and fails to meet the region’s pressing needs, he said, adding that more than 29 medical centers and numerous hospitals have gone out of service in the enclave.

Speaking of the dire situation in Gaza’s hospitals, he stressed that a power outage in the premature infants’ department could lead to immediate fatalities, as there are over 120 babies in care. Al-Barsh also said that “many surgeries for patients are performed without an anesthetic.”

A makeshift kitchen set up on a Gaza City street.

A makeshift kitchen set up on a Gaza City street.

Handout/The Daily Beast

Civilians across Gaza City told The Daily Beast that food shortages have become dire.

“We don’t have gas cylinders or electricity in home since the start of the war, so I don’t have any choice other than waiting in [a bakery] queue for three hours or more on a daily basis to bring bread to my family,” 45-year-old Mohammed Ismael from Gaza’s Nuseirat camp said.

Samy Ahmed, 38, was also waiting in a long queue with more than 80 people to buy some bread for his family. “We heard that the UNRWA distributed wheat to some bakeries in Khan Younis and Rafah, but none of this new aid reached Gaza city. Why isn’t the UNRWA trying to bring aid to Gaza? Shall we die of hunger?,” he asked The Daily Beast.

A lack of fuel across Gaza has also raised alarm that “life in Gaza will stop,” UNRWA Adnan Abu Hasna said in a press statement on Wednesday morning. “Only a few hours remain before we run out of fuel, and if the fuel runs out and hospital generators stop.”

Omar Abu Taha, who represents power station owners in Gaza, told The Daily Beast: “We demand the international community to help us get fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip to cover the health, commercial and humanitarian needs,” which “remains stuck at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.”

On the issue of aid deliveries to Gaza, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern this week that aid isn’t getting into the enclave “fast enough.”

A Palestinian girl sheltering at a cultural center in Gaza City.

A Palestinian girl sheltering at a cultural center in Gaza City.

Handout/The Daily Beast

Ghost Town

According to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, more than 6,500 Palestinians have been killed in the enclave since the war began. A looming Israeli ground offensive in Gaza threatens even more civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, in Israel—where Hamas killed some 1,400 people in the Oct. 7 attacks—the families of the more than 200 hostages abducted by militants into Gaza are holding their breath, waiting in agony for any news about the fate of their loved ones.

The Daily Beast’s stringer in Gaza, who continues to report on the humanitarian crisis in the enclave even after their close brush with death this week, said in a message that their neighborhood in Gaza City had been “an oasis of life in the middle of a desert of death.”

Now, it has become a “ghost town” that’s been “completely flattened” in the war.

While detailing their ordeal, the reporter made an emotional plea, spoken into the void: “I swear to God, we just want this war to end.”

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