Tuesday, September 2, 2014

These harrowing tweets show what life is like in Gaza under Israeli bombing right now

A Palestinian worker at the site of an Israeli air strike in Gaza City Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After six days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, part of a recent and still-spiraling escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict, over 160 Palestinians have been reportedly killed. While Israeli strikes are targeting Hamas and other militant groups that are firing rockets into Israel, a local UN office estimated on Friday that 77 percent of people killed in Gaza up to that point were civilians, including 30 children. A separate UN agency estimated on Sunday that 70 percent of the killed were civilians, including 27 children.

What does it feel like to be in Gaza right now, under ever-looming threat of bombardment from above? Mohammed Suliman, a resident of Gaza City who identifies himself on his blog as a 22-year-old graduate student, has been tweeting, often poignantly, of the experience.

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Relatives of four Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes mourn in Gaza City (Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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The al-Nuseirat Refugee Camp in Gaza City, after Israeli bombing. (Ezz Zanoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Israeli strikes on Gaza are the most intensive since late 2012, which began with a air strike to kill a senior Hamas militant leader in Gaza. The worst round of fighting before that, in 2008, eventually escalated into an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza; it is not clear whether that will happen again now. This most recent round of violence began when members of Hamas, apparently acting independently from Hamas leadership, murdered three Israeli students in the West Bank, two of them children.

Suliman is also victim of one of the conflict's less overt but still pernicious effects: of driving people to themselves endorse the killing of innocent civilians on the "other side" while they lament the deaths of innocents on their own. This does not in the least soften the suffering in Gaza that Suliman well conveys, but it's a reminder of how the suffering can become self-perpetuating. It's also a reminder of how people become desensitized to, or outright reject, the suffering of certain civilians simply because they have the wrong nationality — a problem that persists on both sides of the Green Line.

Read our comprehensive explanation of the Israel-Palestine conflict here.

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