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When the Israeli military calls to say your home will be bombed in 10 minutes

A destroyed home in Gaza City
A destroyed home in Gaza City
Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israeli officials often make the point, when violence flares between Israel and the Gaza-based militant group Hamas as it is now, that only Hamas deliberately targets civilians. Israeli forces, they note, only target militants, and they have procedures to reduce civilian deaths, for example with "roof knocking" or by simply calling the house they are about to bomb and warning the occupants that they should leave immediately.

This is true enough. But even when those procedures work at saving civilians from dying in an air strike, they can still cause terrible suffering. Here, to convey what it feels like to have the Israeli Defense Forces call your home and tell you it will be bombed in minutes, is a message from a Gazan passed along by Palestinian-American filmmaker Annemarie Jacir:

This note is a reminder that the toll of the ongoing Israel-Gaza violence, and of the larger Israel-Palestine conflict that has gone on for so long, goes well beyond fatality counts. Families are touched by the conflict in numerous ways, often not well expressed in statistics. The decisions a parent has to make in the moments between an IDF phone call and an IDF bomb, and the dread of displacement, are among them.

Any policy that reduces civilian casualties is a good thing, but that does not make the conflict anywhere near cost-free for the many Palestinian civilians who are deeply affected by it. Thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by the fighting so far, and with few safe places to go leaving home is often just the beginning.

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