On the evening of January 3, Israel sent ground troops and armoured vehicles into the Gaza Strip.
Prof. Said Abdelwahed, who teaches English at Al-Azhar University, posted earlier in the day at Moments in Gaza:
I am okay so far. Air raids in my area in the last ten minutes were nine, and we expect the worst to come! In the morning between 3:00-4:00 they raided ten times on targets in Gaza city. Let alone the shelling from the Israeli navy vessels. They burnt more than ten local fishing boats on the spot! In the afternoon, Israel raido mentioned targeting 35 places in Gaza Strip. It included bridge that connects north and south of the eastern parts of Gaza city, and it included Gaza airport in Rafah. It getting worse and worse. It seems that the ground offensive is imminent!
I don't have electricity or water now. I am about to run out of diesel too. There is no way to go out. We have been inside as from day one (8 days so far and who knows!)
God bless you all
He was then able to write something quickly just after the offensive began:
I have minutes to write. Nine F16s raided at targets in Gaza. Artillery shelled a 30 kilometers strip of cultivated land to the east of Gaza Strip. Then, several air raids followed; they targeted mosques, homes, al-Resala newspaper offices. Minutes ago, eleven praying men were killed in bombing a mosques in Beit Lahia at sunset (Magreb) prayers. Among them was a reporter of al-Aqsa TV. No electricity; no water; no life in the city. Officially 460 people declared dead and 2300 injured. Mobile phone are out of order; land telephones can hardly catch and answer. Gaza is a city of ghosts. Ground offensive is on the move with two tanks and a bulldozer.
Laila El-Haddad, who is currently in the United States, and blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor, spoke to her father in Gaza just after the news was announced:
We just came back from a protest…before we left my father called to let me know a land invasion was imminent, and that a bomb had been destroyed a mosque near them-killing 11 civilians.
He just now informed me that a land invasion HAS BEGUN. Everyone is bracing themselves.
He said Israel destroyed 3 JAWAL centers (the mobile provider) so many mobile phones, including his own, are down, but his landline is functional..
He tells me that a building behind my cousin's house in Gaza City was destroyed, and is now burning down in a voracious fire. It had an orphanage in it.
My mother says she won't lie..they are terrified.
Flares and firebombs are being shot to light up the sky. Propaganda fliers telling the people of Gaza that “they chose Hamas and and Hamas has abandoned them”; that “Hamas will lead them to catastrophe”‘ superimposed on an image of a bombed-out building; and calling on them to “take charge of their destiny” and to call a given phone number or email with tips and then a warning to call “in secrecy” (thanks for the tip). Israel is also broadcasting on al-Aqsa TV station there.
My father tells me Gaza's streets are as “dark as Kohl“.
You can follow Laila El-Haddad on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Gazamom