Amer Ashour’s pregnant wife started having labour pains just as Israel began to bombard the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday night.
They rushed to a nearby maternity hospital where the couple was blessed with a baby boy, their second child. But what they did not expect was to return home and find no trace of it except for a pile of rubble and stones.
Israel’s forces bombed the 11-storey building the couple lived in, in the Al-Nasr neighbourhood in the west of Gaza City, after the Palestinian armed group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack inside Israel earlier on Saturday.
“What I feared most when the escalation began was that my wife was about to give birth. I was worried how we would get to the hospital in light of the continuous bombing,” Ashour told Al Jazeera. “But I did not at all expect my house will be bombed and destroyed.”
Israel on Sunday declared a “state of war” and approved “significant military steps” after Hamas’s surprise attack. The fierce battles that followed have killed more than 1,000 people – including at least 400 in Gaza – and wounded thousands on both sides.
“Today, all of us, our children and women, are homeless,” he said as he pulled his belongings from the rubble. “Where will we go in these difficult times?”
Shadi Al-Hassi and his elder brother fled their home in the east of the Gaza Strip after it was damaged following an air strike on a building behind their house. They went to their parents’ apartment in Al-Watan Tower in downtown Gaza City.