By Ola Attallah – Gaza City
With thick clouds of smoke billowing into the sky and dead bodies littering into the streets, a stench of death rose from the ruins of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, December 27.
"Where are my sons?" screamed Um Ibrahim as she ran hysterically looking for her little kids.
She lives near a security compound Israeli planes pounded to the ground on Saturday.
"I don’t know what happened to them," cried the bereaved mother.
Her neighbor Um Abed fell unconscious when she saw her son among the dead in the attacks.
At least 206 Palestinians were killed in massive Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
"The number of victims has reached 195 martyrs with more than 300 wounded, 120 of whom are critically hurt," said Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services.
"The toll has gone up because of new Israeli raids and the discovery of several martyrs under the rubble."
TV footage showed bodies of people scattered on the ground after Israeli attacks destroyed several security compounds.
Some rescue workers beat their heads and shouted "God is greatest" as one badly wounded man lying nearby quietly recited verses from the Qur’an.
The Israeli army confirmed the attacks, saying it was just the beginning of a bigger onslaught in the seaside strip.
"The operation will go on and be intensified as long as necessary," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters.
"The battle will be long and difficult, but the time has come to act and to fight."
Israeli leaders have vowed to launched a massive offensive to end Hamas rule in Gaza, sealed off by Israel since last June.
Iyas was sitting in a security compound when he heard Israeli planes flying overhead.
"I left the compound as soon as I heard the planes hovering overhead," he said.
"Moments later, the building was bombed down. My colleagues were torn apart," he said, fighting back his tears.
"It is a tragedy."
Mosques across the besieged strip ran verses of the Noble Qur’an through loudspeakers.
Calls for Gazans to stand up to the Israeli aggression were also repeated through microphones.
In front of one of the bombed-out security compounds, 12-year-old Omar stood crying.
"My father was working there," screamed the Gazan boy.
His classmate Fadi sat on the pavement with tears rolling down his checks.
"I fear returning home," he said. "The (Israeli) planes are still there."
– Ola Attallah is a correspondent for IslamOnline.net in Gaza. (Originally published in IslamOnline.net)