‘He’s breathing’: My two hours under Gaza’s rubble after an Israeli strike

On the morning that the unthinkable happened, my father was holding the radio close, hoping the news bulletin might bring some kind of relief such as news of a ceasefire. My mother was attempting to strike a reassuring tone following another long and sleepless night in our family home in central Gaza City.

“I am hopeful today shall pass peacefully, or at least be anything unlike last night,” she told us.

That morning – December 7 – after making contact with my news desk in Doha to let them know that we had survived the heavy overnight bombardment, I joined my 65-year-old father, Rafik, who was listening to the news.

None of us had any idea what was about to come.

It happened in a matter of milliseconds. In an instant, the morning’s bright sunshine disappeared, as the entire world turned dark and my two-year-old son, Rafik, my wife, Asmaa, father, mother, Nadia, and sister, Fatma, were all thrust into a black world of choking dust, smoke and fire.

Everything seemed to vanish. All I knew was that pain was coursing through my body and I was trapped under what I later learned was the weight of the ceiling pressed down upon my family and I.

In a panic, I screamed the names of my family one by one. Unable to see any of them, I prayed and cried that one of them would answer me.

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