As Israel pursues its massive onslaught against the cordoned off Gaza Strip, children are paying the heavy price losing their lives or suffering psychological scars.
"My children are completely terrified," Faysal Shawa, a construction engineer, told The Independent on Monday, December 29.
"We still don’t dare go outside. Nowhere feels safe."
Five girls from the same family, including a 14 month-old toddler, were slain overnight when Israeli warplanes pounded a mosque near their home in the northern town of Jabaliya.
Three boys were also killed in a separate Israeli strike on the southern city of Rafah.
The fatalities took to 27 the number of children killed in the Israeli onslaught, unleashed Saturday.
More than 345 people have been killed and 1,650 wounded in the Israeli offensive.
Israeli jets bombed targets across Gaza for the third consecutive day.
"Gaza is so small that when the Israelis bomb us it feels like they are bombing our own houses," said Shawa, a father of three.
Israel remains adamant to heed international calls to halt its military operation against the densely-populated strip, home to 1.6 million
"We are engaged in an all-out war against Hamas and its proxies," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday.
"This operation will expand and deepen as much as needed…We went to war to deal a heavy blow to Hamas, to change the situation in the south."
The Israeli army declared the border areas with the Gaza Strip a closed military zone.
Israeli tanks have been massing on the border of Gaza in preparation for a ground operation.
Shawa, the construction engineer, said the 1.6 million Palestinians of Gaza are used to unabated Israeli assaults.
"But this time the bombings are absolutely terrifying," he noted.
"What makes this attack worse is that for the past 18 months we have been living with little electricity, water and food."
Israel has been closing all commercial crossings with the impoverished Gaza Strip since last year.
The water-tight siege has aggravated the humanitarian crisis suffered by the people of the coastal enclave.
"For the children it is like living in hell," laments Shawa.
"This has to stop and it must stop now."
Hazem Sami Rikhawi, a 20-year-old engineering student, was injured in an Israeli strike at an UNRWA-run training center in Gaza Saturday.
"Suddenly, a large missile fell among the girls. Two of them died," he recalled from his hospital bed.
Eight students were killed and 20 wounded in the Israeli attack on the NRWA training center.
One of them was Hazem’s friend.
"He was vomiting blood from his nose and mouth. ‘Save me Hazem’ – these were his last words before he died," he remembered with tear-soaking eyes.
"I will never forget his eyes and his faint voice asking for help."
(IslamOnline.net and agencies)