Yousef Hammash is a 29-year-old Palestinian living in the Gaza strip with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. He works for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Hammash shared his story with Loveday Morris.

I witnessed several wars. I was expecting it to be like the escalations we’ve had more recently, just some bombing. I thought two or three days, I didn’t imagine all this would happen. On Tuesday, the first day, I was at my house, about to take a shower. I was preparing to go to my parents’ house; it was Ramadan, and usually we have iftar together. My wife is eight months pregnant. My daughter is 3. It was 6 p.m. They attacked my neighbor’s house. I still have a headache until now from the sound of that missile. Everyone was running; everyone was screaming. We just wanted to run; usually, one rocket is a warning. At that moment, I was terrified. I started to film what had happened there. Then they attacked with the second rocket.

Hammash had gone outside to see the damage left behind by an Israeli missile. When another strike came, he and his neighbors fled. (Yousef Hammash)

I moved to my parents’ house, I stayed there all night. It was a very, very heavy attack behind the house. It was like 30 airstrikes in one minute. I collected them all in the corridor in the middle of the house. I was screaming, asking them to stay on the ground, to stay down because we didn’t know where the bombing was. It was a really crazy night.

Hammash took this video right after a strike near the home he was staying in. (Yousef Hammash)

The next day, I went back to my apartment to take some clothes for my wife because I decided to send my wife and daughter to her parents’ house. I was feeling it was safer for them to stay at my father-in-law’s house. There aren’t high buildings, and it’s a two-floor house, no neighbors. For my parents, I’m the only man for them, so I thought I should stay.

I’d just entered the house, just for a first few seconds. Most of the windows were broken, and the bedroom was really damaged.

They attacked again. I ran to the window. At that moment, all I was thinking about was running. It damaged the shop nearby; the neighbors were trying to break the door to control the fire. I had to run to my parents’ house. And then we decided that even my parents would flee from there.

Hammash rushes to see where a missile had struck near his home. (Yousef Hammash)

I went with them to my grandparents’ house. Our other relatives had to flee there, so there were a lot of people. The house is two rooms and one [sitting area], and they were containing around 10 to 15 people. Everyone was tense; we understood that no place was safe.

On Friday, I moved to my father-in-law’s house; they were insisting that I come there. The way that my daughter was waiting for me on the stairs to arrive, she’s 3 years old, but she’s really smart. I was happy but also really terrified, and I was just trying to keep her beside me. Wherever I went, I wanted her around me, her and my wife.

About 10 minutes after I met them, they attacked again, near my father-in-law’s house. There was a very loud explosion. My daughter was between my legs playing, and I grabbed her to hug her. It’s a normal reaction — I just wanted to make sure she’s safe. She screamed from my reaction, not the bombing. Then I realized my wife succeeded in convincing her that all of this was fireworks.

We tried to avoid the word “bombing,” qasaf, in Arabic; we’d say “fireworks.” It was heavy shelling all the night, heavy bombing. All of us, even my father-in-law, his wife, we all went inside a room in the back of the house with no windows. We understood that it’s the most safe place.

I was a freelance journalist in 2014, 2012, 2008 and 2009. I haven’t seen this kind of bombardment. This kind of explosion. The shake of the house. The sound. The massive destruction. The streets have been demolished; there are places in Gaza we can’t recognize it. It’s really insane.

Parts of Gaza are now unrecognizable. (Yousef Hammash)

I moved back and forth to my parents’ house, trying to work on press for NRC. Working on my laptop, connecting to the Internet. I chose a place that was sheltered by a wall. If there was an attack, I would be injured, but we were reducing the casualty.

I only had one shower in 10 days, and it was the fastest shower in my life. I had to take it wearing my clothes, because I was afraid to be bombed when I was naked. I took my shower wearing my underwear. Even my wife was sleeping in her hijab.

I didn’t know what day it was. I just knew I wanted to finish day by day, and if I was still alive from one, go on to the next one. That’s what me and 2 million other people were doing.

When they announced the cease-fire at 2 a.m., a friend called me to go to see the streets: “There are sad faces, there are happy faces, there are fireworks.” To be honest, my answer was, “I want to sleep.” I wanted to sleep without being afraid that there were going to be bombs. All that I did was sleeping. I don’t remember completing one hour of sleep in a day.

Now I think about how we are going to fix the root causes of this escalation. We understand that we don’t know how long it’s going to last. Months? Days? Years? No one knows. But we understand that it’s not going to be the last escalation. That’s for sure — this cycle of violence never stopped.