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As Israeli troops close in on Gaza City, clashes with various Palestinian fighters intensify. Sameh Habeeb, a photojournalist based in Gaza City, reports, shortages of water, food, gas and fuel have left many with nothing but what they have stored from before the attack began. Habeeb says the Israeli army has been warning Palestinians to evacuate in advance of bombings, but explains that for the majority of the people, they have nowhere to go. While Habeeb was describing the mushrooming humanitarian crisis in Gaza City, his house was being shelled by the unending violence between the IDF and the Hamas forces.

Story Transcript

GERALDINE CAHILL (VOICEOVER), TRNN: The Israeli attack on Gaza has been waging for more than two weeks. More than 850 civilians have been killed and over 4100 injured. Hundreds of rockets have hit Southern Israel as Israeli troops close in on Gaza City. The Real News Network spoke to Sameh Habeeb, a photojournalist living in Gaza City.

CAHILL: Sameh, what is going on in Gaza City right now?

SAMEH HABEEB, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Clashes between the Palestinian fighters and the Israeli soldiers taking place. Bombing from the artillery shells…the artillery machine is taking place hourly, or more than hourly. Especially midnight in which serious and big flashes erupt. Gaza City is being cut. It’s being cut from the North, from the South, the East and the West. We are being trapped and every single point in Gaza is being under the Israeli target. Today many cars that were just driving into the Gaza Strip were hit and around four people were killed.

CAHILL: What is going on with you and with your family?

HABEEB: The situation in my house is very sad. As with all Palestinians, I am faced with a very problematic situation in terms of food supplies, in terms of water, in terms of gas, fuel, and everything that’s being needed, for me, for the basic humanity. I don’t have enough bread, I don’t have enough water; I don’t have access to the Internet. All you can imagine I’m not having at this moment. And to add to that, we are living in a very frightening and fearful situation due to the Israeli military operation. The fear from the rockets, from the shelling, from the air force and the naval force bombing that never stops. My house personally was exposed to shrapnel, big shrapnel from the artillery shells. And all the areas, all the houses around me, are being exposed to the shrapnel. From my window I could see rockets going here and there and destroying some places and people are being trapped. Since the start of this military operation we cannot go out. It’s so dangerous to go out of your house. You know, the drones are targeting every movable target, because they think everything moving is someone who’s going to try to fire a rocket. Especially in the borders here, in the East of Gaza City.

CAHILL: Have you seen the ground troops yet?

HABEEB: We didn’t see the soldiers; we only saw the tanks and the bulldozers that were just bulldozing some trees. No one was able to see what was going on on the borders because heavy confrontation and heavy fighting was taking place between Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army is not able, at the moment, to get into Gaza City itself. They are still at the borders of Gaza City. If they try to get in, the Palestinian fighters start to fire and to resist them.

CAHILL: And what about the South part of the Gaza Strip? What’s happening there?

HABEEB: Two days ago, the Israeli army threw tens of thousands of leaflets warning the people who are living beside the borders with Egypt, to leave and evacuate the city, in a preparational way, to bomb the tunnel areas between Egypt and Palestine. And thousands of people left their houses to go to the other part of Rafah, and the Israeli army started, for the past two days, after they have told the people to leave, they started to use the F-16s, to use heavy bombs that were used in Afghanistan, in Iraq, to bomb, to go deep down in the earth, under the ground. We could see cluster bombs, it’s American weapons.

CAHILL: How do you survive without water delivery and gas?

HABEEB: We buy water from some points. We are in bad need for any kind of water. And it is the same thing for bread, if we need some kind of bread; we have to go to some of the bakeries. Gaza had around 47 bakeries working on a daily basis. But now we have only five to seven working, and not on a daily basis. We don’t have enough flour here. UNRWA was saying that Gaza needs around 100 vans of flour a day. But what is getting into the Gaza Strip is a few vans. Another problem we have is the new refugees; we are speaking about more than 35,000 people who left their houses from the North and from the mid areas into Gaza City.

CAHILL: How do the ambulances function without fuel?

HABEEB: The ambulances are not able to function. Medical vehicles are arriving from Egypt into Gaza; they have to take some of those injured people into Egypt. As for the humanitarian crisis, what is getting into Gaza from the humanitarian aid is not enough at all. Hundreds of trucks in Egypt and from Jordan are not able to get into the Gaza Strip. Gaza has nothing on the ground; has nothing in the houses. What people have at the moment is what they have stored before, and what they have saved in their houses.

CAHILL: And what about you yourself, can you evacuate?

HABEEB: This is the problem! Ms. Tzipi Livni was saying on TV some days ago that, “if we need to hit a place, we tell the Palestinian people to leave their houses.” But the dilemma here is we don’t have places to go to. I will let you hear just the sound of the clashes and the fire now. If you can…


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Sameh Habeeb is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories. He worked previously as a producer for Ramattan News Agency.