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People are fleeing the north on donkey carts
independent minds
When we woke up yesterday morning there were people on the streets for the first time in days. Whole families, girls, women, fathers, children. They appeared to be coming from the north of the Gaza Strip, fleeing their homes. The majority were walking, some were on donkey carts. There were a few cars and trucks but each had up to 10 people crushed inside. They were carrying their belongings, such things as mattresses and bed covers.

My grandfather who lives with us, watched for a while and said: "This is exactly like the immigration of Palestinians into Gaza in 1948". 
Overnight there were more air strikes, heavy-artillery shelling and the tanks have been coming deeper into Gaza. So you can't blame people for seeking safety. 
Alaa, my wife, nine months pregnant, is nervously hanging on and I'm thanking God she hasn't gone into labour yet. Medical check-ups are out of the question as most of the clinics are closed. When she's born, we'll call my daughter Somaya. But, the later the better. I don't want our first baby arriving in these conditions. The thing is I'm afraid this will be a long conflict and every day will be worse than the last. 
We're still coming to terms with the death of my father, killed by an Israeli air strike on Saturday as the ground war began. When you're in shock you don't really feel much pain. But when you stay in the house, looking at your father's things, recalling the last conversations you had with him, it is sad beyond belief. I know I'm in the same situation as many, many families in Gaza. 
I at least can take some comfort from all the emails I've been sent. Everyone who wrote after reading the report on the front page of Monday's Independent said that they were very moved. I'm happy about that. Telling the story is much better than any revenge. 
When the Israelis take complete control of Gaza I think they will launch a large scale detention campaign and arrest the men aged between 15 to 50 to interrogate them for information. Of course all the wanted men have gone underground. 
Because we're a family in mourning, neighbours and friends have been coming to the house to offer condolences. They have nothing to talk about other than the crisis. And the overwhelming feeling I get is that ordinary people who find themselves locked in this conflict are angry with Hamas. Hamas is supposed to be the government; they have been provoking the Israelis with their rockets and putting people at risk, yet now their leaders have vanished from sight leaving no plans to provide food, medicines or any kind of security for us. Of course Hamas still has its supporters whose minds will never be changed. But more and more, that is what I'm hearing. The senior commanders of Hamas have gone underground and left their people behind.

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Dear Fares

I know it's small comfort, but please know that millions around the world are protesting on behalf of the Palestinians, and praying for you all. We wish you so patinece, peace and the liberation of your land. I'm so looking forward to seeing pictures of your baby when she is born safe and well inshallah. Let us all hope she has the opportunity to grow up in a free and happy Palestine.

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

I just want to send you and your wife and the rest of your family every good wish and hope for health and long life for all of you, and for your new baby daughter. May peace be with all of you, and may your daughter grow up in a free and prosperous Palestine.

I have been so anxious for your safety, I have been checking the independent website constantly for news of you all. I thank God that your daughter has been delivered safely, and I hope your wife is doing well, too. As a grandmother, too, I send greetings and warm good wishes also to your mother, and I wish so much that your father had not been killed. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

As a U.S. citizen, I just want you to know how VERY, VERY sorry I am for the U.S.-enabled and sponsored holocaust that Israel is carrying out against Gaza. "Sorry" does not begin to express my grief and rage as the killing goes on and on and on. Like all of you, I cry out to God. May God have mercy on us all.

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