For Civilians, 'There Is No Safe Zone In Gaza' Israel is preventing reporters from entering the Gaza Strip to cover the offensive against Hamas. Ayman Mohyeldin, a television reporter for Al-Jazeera English, has been in Gaza since the Israeli air strikes began. He says that the Israeli offensive has been punishing and that "there is no safe zone in Gaza."
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For Civilians, 'There Is No Safe Zone In Gaza'

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For Civilians, 'There Is No Safe Zone In Gaza'

For Civilians, 'There Is No Safe Zone In Gaza'

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And we turn now to one of the few foreign journalists who is inside Gaza. Ayman Mohyeldin is a reporter for Al-Jazeera English, and he's been in the territory since the fighting began almost two weeks ago. We reached him in Gaza City.

Mr. AYMAN MOHYELDIN (Reporter, Al-Jazeera English): Good morning, Renee. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine thank you. Could you begin, please, by telling us what the scene is like right now in Gaza?

Mr. MOHYELDIN: Well, it's certainly relatively calm compared to what it has been throughout the course of the evening. In fact even the early morning, we still hear the sound of Israeli drones or unmanned aerial vehicles hovering overhead, as they have been throughout this entire military operation. We do occasionally hear the constant sound of shelling off to the eastern border between Gaza and Israel. And every once in a while we will hear the sounds of some very heavy machine gun fire. And that is the situation here, at least in Gaza City.

There is slightly a little bit more traffic in the early mornings as people try to venture out and get whatever they can in these few hours that, you know, there is daylight and they can make it to bakeries and pharmacies and other food shops. In fact where I'm standing, I can see a line that really extends all the way around the corner. It's almost a three to four-hour line wait for people to try to get their hands on bread. There's been a scene like this every day since this military operation began, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, you know, we've been seeing photographs, of course, of a lot of damage there. But give us a sense of is it in places or are there areas that have escaped the air strikes?

Mr. MOHYELDIN: Absolutely not. There is no safe zone in Gaza. And it's important to remember two things. One, Gaza does not have the kind of infrastructure for this type of military operation. What I mean by that is there's no early warning system. There are no shelters. There are no bunkers. There was nothing to notify the people that, you know, an aerial assault was going to begin on Saturday, which is, you know, in Israel obviously they have an early warning system when rockets are fired. Sirens go off and people can actually run and take cover.

Here it's not like that whatsoever. And what's made it more slightly dangerous is that no inch of Gaza is being spared. If you look at the list of targets that have been hit throughout this military operation: hospitals, mosques, schools, homes that belong to individual people, police stations, government ministries, nothing has been spared.

MONTAGNE: Are you able to move about reasonably freely and see what's going on?

Mr. MOHYELDIN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, we are able to move around. There is also a colleague of mine, Sherine Tadros. And the two of us have been able to move around and assess for ourselves the situation. We've been to the hospitals, the schools that have been hit. We've been to the homes of people. We've stayed the night with Palestinians. And so we're getting a very good firsthand account of what life here is like.

MONTAGNE: Have the sites targeted by Israel revealed in your reporting, in your experience, Hamas hideouts?

Mr. MOHYELDIN: Well, you know, I think the terminology of what is a Hamas hideout is really difficult to, you know, to accurately describe. I mean, we have been to mosques. We have been to homes. We have been to the U.N. shelters. It would be very difficult to say that a U.N. shelter is a Hamas hideout, but in fact three U.N. schools have been hit.

MONTAGNE: You know, of course, when you're speaking of women or children or maybe older men, it would be clear that these are civilians. But would you be able to distinguish when you're speaking of younger men there which is a militant and which - you know, is a Hamas militant, potentially a threat to Israel, and which is functionally a civilian?

Mr. MOHYELDIN: Certainly not. The short answer to that is no. You cannot distinguish because if you were just going to base it on looks, since the first day of the attacks, we know that a lot of the services here, the police services as well as the military factions, are not dressing in particularly identifiable uniforms. They may have done on the first couple of days, but there is no clear identifiable marker to say someone is a civilian or someone is not.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. MOHYELDIN: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: Ayman Mohyeldin is a reporter for Al-Jazeera English speaking to us from Gaza.

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