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Israeli pilots carried out a series of air strikes accompanied by artillery barrages throughout the Gaza Strip, targeting civilian infrastructure, assassinating militants and striking fear into the population with deafening noise as low-flying F-16 fighter jets shatter the sound barrier overhead day and night.
The insecurity in Gaza, however, is felt far beyond the Palestinian militias. In addition to political offices, metal shops and warehouses, Israeli warplanes and helicopters have fired missiles at civilian infrastructure including a roadway, school, bridge, residential homes, and two power generators that were struck early Wednesday morning, cutting off electricity to Gaza City’s 500,000 residents for hours.
The sonic booms that erupt when F-16 fighter jets break the sound barrier over the tiny coastal strip often knock pictures from the walls of Palestinian homes. Residents are compelled to keep their windows open lest the pressure blow them out. The sporadic, thunderous claps rattle the nerves of adults and children alike.
Sajida Srour, the director of a kindergarten and nursery school in Gaza City, said the children – long accustomed to F-16s – scream whenever the sonic booms rip through the air, and it is not uncommon for the children to wet themselves. If insecurity is the goal, the air raids have been effective, added Fadi Srour, who is among the staff at his mother’s nursery. "It works. People are terrified."
Israeli forces, armor and artillery are currently amassed on the Gaza border, threatening a ground invasion.