As the world celebrated the New Year with firework shells and shooting comets, the Palestinians in the bombed-out Gaza Strip began it to the deafening sound of Israeli missiles.
"Our music for the New Year is the sound of Israeli warplanes, our lights for the New Year is the fire made by Israeli missiles," Raed Samir, 32, told the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported on Thursday, January 1.
Even New Year messages shared by Palestinians conveyed the same feeling.
"Look outside, F-16 jet fighters are smiling for you, missiles are dancing for you, zannana [drones] are singing for you," read a SMS received by Fathi Tobal from his friend.
"While other people around the world celebrate, it seems the Israeli air force is trying to save us the cost of fireworks," he said cynically.
Israel launched nearly 30 New Year strikes by air and sea on battered Gaza, a coastal enclave of 1.6 million.
Four people, including two women, were killed and scores others wounded when Israeli warplanes bombed a house in the southern city of Rafah.
Aircraft also destroyed the headquarters of the Palestinian Legislative Council, parliament, and the buildings of the education and justice ministries.
Hundreds of houses around the targets have been destroyed.
A later strike on a five-storey house in Jabaliya killed senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayan and nine family members, including his seven and ten-year-old children.
This takes to more than 412 the number of Palestinians killed in massive Israeli strikes since Saturday.
Many Palestinians feel being abandoned and betrayed by the international community.
"This world should wake up; instead of dancing and drinking, they should move right away to stop the new holocaust being waged against the civilian population of Gaza," said Asad Abu Sharekh, a university professor and political analyst.
"The alleged international community must move to protect the legitimate rights of a people under occupation."
The UN Security Council failed Wednesday to vote on an Arab draft demanding an immediate ceasefire over objections from the US, Israel’s main ally.
"Can you imagine, we are now crowded into my small two-room apartment, as my parents, sisters and brothers have been forced to stay with me for fear of the Israel air raids on their neighborhood," said Marwan, 40.
He is now hosting 25 family members after they fled their homes under the Israeli blitz.
The attacks have forced many families to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in school buildings.
"As you see, warplanes are casting fear everywhere," said Hamada Hammad, 22.
"I hope that young people outside will do something in solidarity with us, the youth of Palestine."
Palestinians usually welcome New Year with greetings such as "Kul am wa antum bi khair" (May you be safe and well every year).
This year the messages were "Kul qasif wa antum bi khair" (May you be safe after every bombing."
(IslamOnline.net and news agencies)