By Ola Attallah – Gaza
When Heba El-Sakka heard the thundering sound of the Israeli bombardment, she was, just like every time, terrified to death. But it never crossed her mind the target this time was her university.
"My graduation project, the fruit of five years of hard study, vanished in a blink on an eye," the engineering student at the Islamic University in Gaza (IUG) told IslamOnline.net with tears rolling down her face.
"It can’t be. It feels like the missiles took away a piece of me."
Israeli warplanes have fired air-to-ground missiles at the IUG, the biggest and oldest scientific edifice in the impoverished Gaza Strip, on Monday and Tuesday.
Six buildings in the university, including the female dormitory, were completely flattened as a result.
The IUG, which has more than 16,000 students, said the Israeli bombardment has completely leveled science and engineering and other research laboratories.
It also ruined hundreds of academic research papers by graduate and post-graduate students.
"My graduation research is all gone," Mona, another engineering student said with her voice choked with tears.
"The Israeli strikes killed that, too."
Israel pursued on Wednesday, December 31, a fifth day of strikes against the heavily-populated Gaza Strip, home to 1.6 million.
The onslaught has so far killed more than 390, injured more than 1800, reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, overwhelmed hospitals with wounded and filled Gaza’s deserted streets with smoke and fire.
An Israeli missiles hit a training center operated by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Saturday, killing eight students and wounding 19 others.
The Israeli military juggernaut did not just hit tens of schools and educational institutions across Gaza, but left students psychologically scarred.
"I don’t know whether my school has survived the bombardment. It is very close to one of the raided security posts," Siham Ragab, director of Al-Zahraa Secondary School for girls, told IOL.
Even if it has, she laments, the students will never be able to sit for the upcoming exams.
"The situation is very difficult. Students are horrified."
Adey, a student in the seventh grade, drives the same point home.
After bidding farewell to his cousins who were killed in one of the Israeli strikes, he told his mother not to expect any thing from him in this year’s exams.
"I have almost forgotten my name."
His colleague, Saeed Mehanna, is no less traumatized by the tragedies of the past days.
"Everything is violated now in Gaza," said a sorrowful Mehanna, his eyes gazing off into the horizon.
For Anas, an IUG science student, the airstrikes are only the latest episode in the Israeli scheme targeting the education system in Gaza.
"How can a book be the target of a military missile," fumed the angry student.
"I ask the Western world, isn’t that what you call ‘barbarity’?"
-Ola Attallah is a correspondent for IslamOnline.net in Gaza. (Originally published in IslamOnline.net)