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14 Mar, 2009 06:53

Grief-struck Gazans leave hoping for a peaceful life

Palestinians have said that two thirds of those killed during war operations were civilians. Almost three months after the conflict, Gaza residents say they can hardly hope for a peaceful life.

Israel insists the figures are inflated and that at least seven hundred militants who had attacked Israeli cities were killed.

One ruined house brings back painful memories for the family who used to live here. The bed is still undone and clothes are still hanging out to dry.

It all happened when Israel launched its ground operation against Gaza in January, and this family found itself in the very centre of Israeli bombardment.

“They started shooting and bombing. There was death all around. We didn’t hope to get out of the house alive,”
said Abu Ahmad Djokha.

Their son Ibrahim was caught in the crossfire with his brother Mohammad and was badly injured.

His mother decided to take the life of her son into her own hands.

“An ambulance, an ambulance. Where could I find that ambulance? I said to them: 'Give me a needle and thread, scissors, cologne and cotton wool' and I saw one small bullet hole …right near the heart,” said Ibrahim's mother Umm Akhmad Djokha.

All her efforts were in vain. Umm Akhmad stayed with her child's body for four days. After Ibrahim was buried, the family left Gaza.

Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza strip after a fragile six-month ceasefire between Hamas and Tel-Aviv expired. The sides were not able to agree on conditions to extend the truce.

The operation's aim was to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Southern Israel.

Ibrahim’s brother Mohammad recalls the spot where he and his brother came under fire.

“Ibragim was holding a white handkerchief in his raised hand. He was standing right in front of me. I didn’t see the sniper, only suddenly – bang! A bullet hit him straight in the heart. The sniper was right above him. Ibrahim threw up his hand and fell to the ground,” described Muhammad Djokha, Ibrahim's brother.

According to latest figures provided by Palestinians, 1,434 Gaza residents were killed during the war. Two thirds of them were civilians.

Israel insists that Hamas inflated the number of casualties and says it has the names of more than 700 Hamas militants killed in fighting.