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The drama of those caught in the Israel-Palestine clash

Residents in Jerusalem and Gaza say they are bracing for a widespread conflict, as Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces continue to exchange fire.

Militiamen have fired dozens of rockets into Israel since Monday night, while Israel has responded by striking targets in the Gaza Strip.

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Violence -the worst in the region since 2018- has left victims side and side.

The BBC has been speaking to residents about their fears.

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“Many prepare for a long exchange of fire”

Yolande Knell, Middle East correspondent, Jerusalem

The southern Israeli city of Ashkelon has borne the brunt of the most recent rocket bombardments of Gaza.

The militant wing of Hamas warned that it would make life “hell” for them. And that’s what the locals have found it to be.

The constant wailing of the warning sirens sends them in disarray to seek refuge.

Overhead loud pops are heard and traces of white smoke are seen through the blue sky, while the air defense system Iron dome Israel intercepts most of the rockets fired from Gaza.

However, a number of buildings have been directly impacted. Two women died. Dozens of people have been rushed to hospital for treatment.

Many of the oldest buildings in this city do not have the bomb shelters that have become standard in Israel.

One woman spoke of the terrifying moment before dawn when a missile hit her home when he was hiding in a closet.

Many are preparing for a continuous and intense exchange of fire in the days to come.

“This round of violence is going to go far,” says one man, Yossi Asulin. “Now that people have died, people will want to solve the problem [con Hamás] once and for all”.

“It seems that the escalation continues”

Rushdi Abu Alouf, BBC News, City of Gaza

Gaza has not been through an experience like this in years. This miserable, overcrowded city knows very well the meaning of war.

The main shopping street in the city center is almost empty, with the exception of a few shoppers. Most of the shops were closed in anticipation of Aíd al Fitr or Feast of the End of the Fast – the most important religious and social event for Muslims.

The bombardments did not stop as the noise of Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes thundered across the region Tuesday morning.

A few meters from our office in Gaza, a loud explosion was heard and a huge plume of smoke billowed into the sky after an Israeli airstrike hit an apartment building housing hundreds of residents.

The attack killed two Islamic jihad military leaders that were hiding inside.

“This is Israeli terrorism, we are innocent civilians. My children are terrified, they do not want to go home for fear of new air strikes,” declared a screaming woman who was holding her child while escaping from the building.

Since the cycle of attacks began, residents have run home to escape the shelling. Gaza has no bomb shelters or warning sirens, so the residents have no choice but to hide in their homes.

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“We don’t know how much longer this cycle of fighting is going to continue. It seems that the escalation continues,” says local Sherin Emadadein.

“I am a mother of four children, we live in a seven-story apartment. There is no basement in our building, I do not know where I will flee if we are bombed,” he adds.

Sherin spoke to me on the phone, while shopping for food at the only store that was open in his neighborhood in western Gaza.

“I was supposed to buy chocolates and sweets to celebrate the long month of fasting for Ramadan, but now I don’t know how long this escalation lasts, so I only buy basic necessities,” he adds.

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