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Life goes on in Gaza despite airstrikes

April 9, 2011 2:38 P.M. (Updated: April 13, 2011 1:54 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Schools remain open and families remain in their homes, with little other choice as strikes continued in Gaza for the third consecutive day on Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, the sounds of ambulance sirens mixed with horns of cars taking newly married couples to wedding halls. On Saturday morning, students headed to schools as usual after they spent the night listening to Israeli drones fly overhead.

With no bomb shelters in Gaza, its residents, mostly refugees, had nowhere to flee and slept in their homes, some with missing roofs and walls, as they had done every night since the end of Israel's assault on Gaza in January 2009.

Gaza psychologist Samir Quta said he and colleagues could offer only coping mechanisms for children and families living in the coastal enclave, saying common advice was to encourage families to continue life as normal as much as possible, to avoid having children feel that their lives were constantly at risk.

"The people of Gaza have been through shocking experiences, they have dealt with a great deal of violence practiced against them. To survive, they have managed to construct a new normalcy, where the violence is incorporated into life around them," Quta said.

Police in Gaza issued a statement, encouraging residents to "continue life as usual," and warning would-be criminals not to "take advantage of the Israeli violence," causing a rise in tensions and concern as families begin the week.

Spokesman of the Gaza police Ayman Batniji said police would continue to operate normally despite the ongoing attacks, adding that officers were being extra-vigilante searching for anyone "spreading rumors or scaring residents."

Online, Gaza residents launched a twitter campaign, attaching thoughts and observations to the tag YouKnowYouAreInGaza, with millions of tweets cataloging the situation with anger, wry sarcasm and fear.

Following the post from bloggers at SleeplessinGaza, on Thursday, by Friday tweets from Gaza bloggers commented, "when the electricity is off most of the day!," "when you find little kids with great experience about weapons, warplanes, and sounds of explosions," "when you hear the ambulance alarms louder than the mosques call for praying . just like right now," and finally, Saturday morning, one woman commented, YouKnowYouAreInGaza "When it's quiet, no bombing, no shooting, no drones and no news you'll be afraid as you think it's not normal!"

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