Caged in our own land - Diary from an aid worker in Gaza

Caged in our own land - Diary from an aid worker in Gaza
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My colleague from Oxfam Mohammed Ali continues to report from his home in Gaza City during the Israeli military offensive. Despite being exhausted and barely able to stay on his feet, he's still eager to tell the world his story.

***Gaza City: Every day I say, ' this has been the worst day of my life' and then, tomorrow comes.

Last night I lay there, listening to the sounds of Israeli tanks rolling closer into Gaza City, I could hear homes not far off from mine being hit by bombs, continuous machine gun fire and screams. I did not sleep. Most of Gaza is sleep deprived and even the dead cannot rest; the Israeli military have hit cemeteries with their bombs.

My arms ache, my son demands to be carried all day, he is scared, he wants to be close to someone all the time. If someone shuts the door, he jumps out of his skin; he is a nervous wreck. I wish I could make him sleep; he is exhausted and has started to refuse food. I try to make him laugh to relieve his stress but a moment later his smile is broken by yet another attack and his lip begins to quiver.

My good friend Ahmed's house was turned to ruins yesterday, it took him 10 years to build his family home and in just 10 seconds the Israeli military destroyed it all. Now, he has to move from his parents' house where he sought refuge, to yet another home; he says the area where they live is too dangerous. But if the Israeli military are hitting hospitals with the injured and the dying inside - is there anywhere safe to go? In most conflicts people can flee, out of the danger zone out of their country but we here in Gaza are caged like animals, waiting to die.

Most homes in Gaza city have at least ten families crammed inside and United Nations school buildings are now full. Almost all of my family are staying in our home. I would rather that we were spread out a bit, so that if a bomb drops, we will not all be wiped out.

The calls to the radio from people in dire need of help are becoming more and more frequent. "Help us, help us... we cannot get through to the ambulance or the firemen, we are burning...we are dying us... this is our address." To which the radio DJ desperately responds, "Firemen, ambulance teams please, go to this address, these people need help, now!".

The day before yesterday I went to see Gaza's electricity distribution company; their warehouse was hit by the Israeli military thirty hours before my arrival causing $400,000 worth of damage. The man that was showing me around stopped for a moment and brushed his foot over the sand and told me to look closely. I could not see anything at first and then I saw something burning, I could not believe what I was seeing - it was phosphorus. I thought, if it is still burning thirty hours later I do not want to imagine the effect it will have on contact with human flesh.

My friend who I have been expecting for the last few days has not yet arrived. I have not been able to get through to him; I do not know if he is dead or alive.

I have heard and seen too much. Today, I felt as though my legs could no longer carry me, I have pains in my muscles where I have been tensing at every sound of an attack and at every image of suffering. I am slowly being paralysed.

I feel that death is approaching and I will no longer appeal to world leaders to do something, I have no words for them and it seems as though they have no words for us. What are words anyway when entire families are being wiped out?

We do not need words; we need action, now.

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