Irish filmmaker tells of 'very close call' with Israeli strikes

An Irish filmmaker has revealed how missiles and bombs exploded around him as Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza.

Greg Manahan, who is making a documentary on the MV Saoirse aid vessel, had just left Gaza city on Wednesday when Hamas’s military leader Ahmed Jabari was killed in a blast.

He said the bomb was quickly followed by two missiles hitting a compound behind a house in Khan Yunes where he had been taken for a meal.

“There were two really loud bangs outside,” he said.

“The compression from it made my clothes shake. The second missile was so close the smoke came in to the property we were in.”

“There was a compound behind the house that Israel later said was storage area for missiles.”

Mr Manahan, 45, from Stillorgan, south Dublin, made his way in to the Gaza strip from Egypt last Sunday and was staying with a family in Khuzaa, not far from the Israeli border.

He was documenting the journey 14 Irish activists on board the MV Saoirse with humanitarian aid would have taken if the vessel had not been intercepted by Israeli military in international waters last year.

But he was forced to flee the Palestinian state on Thursday morning as fighting escalated overnight, with missiles and tanks firing back and forth nearby.

The filmmaker revealed he could hear drones and jets above and would brace himself before each target was hit.

“We had a very close call that night,” Mr Manahan continued.

“I looked out the window where I was stayed and I could see a fireball.

“A 1,000lb bomb landed behind olive trees in front of the house.

“The whole place shook. It was so loud.”

The latest round of violence is reported to have been triggered by sustained rocket attacks on towns in Israel, followed by the targeted killing of the senior Hamas leader.

At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce fighting.

Egypt’s Prime Minister earlier visited Gaza for three hours during which he met with Hamas leaders and called for a truce.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore also condemned the escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza which he said has put the lives of innocent civilians at risk.

Mr Manahan said during filming he was told several harrowing stories from people living in Gaza.

They included elderly parents desperate for news on their sons who have been imprisoned in Israel for several years, refugees in camps, hospital medics and Government ministers.

“It was nothing like I thought it was going to be,” he added.

“The people were very warm and generous with the little they had, but underneath they all had a story to tell.”

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