One of the rescue workers: Many times we only hear a moan and try to follow it in order to save people from the rubble (social media)

"I can't sleep, not even for a minute. I am constantly haunted by the sounds and moans of those trapped under the rubble begging us to pull them out from underneath."

This is how Ibrahim Musa, 27, from al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, described his life since Israel began bombing it. Musa is not only struggling to survive day after day like everyone else in the besieged enclave, but he is also one of more than 14,<> rescue workers who make up Gaza's civil defense teams and lead attempts to save lives trapped under the rubble after every Israeli airstrike.

With these words, writer Ruwaida Kamal Amer began an investigation published by the left-wing online magazine 972, which is published in Tel Aviv and run by a group of Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

I've never seen anything like this

Although Moussa worked in the Gaza Civil Defense for five years – during which he witnessed numerous Israeli attacks on the Strip and periods of relative calm during which his work focused on rescuing people from routine emergencies – he never witnessed anything like what is happening now.

According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, more than 8,<> people have been missing since the war began, the vast majority of whom are believed to be trapped under the rubble. Many of them may have died, despite the tireless efforts of civil defense workers like Musa, who are unable to cope with the scale of the recent destruction in Gaza.

"We don't have the equipment to remove the rubble. "There's not much we can do, and if the building is multi-storey, then it will take us hours and a lot of work to make any progress."

When civil defence workers reach the site of destruction, they must quickly try to identify the location of the event they are dealing with. "We don't usually know who is stuck underground or how many people we are looking for, so we call through the rubble, asking if someone is alive to tell us how many people were staying in this building," Moussa said.

We keep screaming

"We keep screaming until someone hears us. Sometimes we get an immediate response, but many times we just hear our moaning, and we try to follow it in order to save these people."

One of the situations that rescue workers are used to encountering in Gaza is trying to calm children trapped under the rubble of their homes. "Children are screaming from the rubble and asking about their family members. Sometimes we lie to them, telling them that everyone is fine so they don't get shocked. Other times they shout to tell us that a family member who was lying next to them was martyred."

Moses often feels that he and his colleagues are engaged in a losing battle. "It's not about bombing one or two houses, it's about entire apartment complexes. An entire region is wiped out of existence, becoming a single pile of rubble. This requires us to dig with our hands to recover the wounded who are still alive. "We try to be careful because the weight of rubble on their bodies could mean we could hurt them, and even cause them to lose limbs, as we try to save them."

They deliberately kill civilians

Another civil defence member, Ahmad Abu Khdeir from Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, speaks to Ruwaida, who describes the war as "more severe and violent" than all previous Israeli attacks on the Strip;

Civil defense workers themselves are not immune to Israeli attacks, and at least 32 people have been killed since the beginning of the war, including 7 members of Abu Khdeir's team, who believe this killing did not happen by mistake.

Abu Khdeir said that the Israeli occupation forces deliberately target civil defense and ambulance teams. "I was injured while working in a house that was bombed in the southern Gaza Strip. We recovered the bodies of three martyrs, and rescued a number of wounded, but the house was bombed again. When I went up to the roof of one of the nearby houses to look for people, we were hit by two more missiles."

Stuck legs

One particularly devastating situation that remains etched in Abu Khdeir's memory followed a midnight bombing near a gas station in the southern Gaza Strip town of Qarara. "I went to the site and at first I couldn't find any victims. Then she heard a moan and turned towards the sound. I dug through the rubble and found two legs stuck, then I freed them, and they belonged to a 12-year-old girl named Aisha."

The girl told him that eight members of her family were trapped under the rubble, as well as other families, including 8 young children.

Despite the best efforts of Abu Khdeir and his colleagues, they simply did not have the means to save them. He described that moment as "one of the harshest moments I've ever had, leaving a place, and I know there are people alive under the rubble, but you can't do anything for them, and some of them will inevitably die."

Source: Israeli Press