100 "miserable" days: CBS News Gaza producer Marwan al-Ghoul shares his perspective on the war

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Palestinians face starvation in Gaza, United Nations warns 03:59

This is one of two articles featuring voices from Israel and Gaza to mark 100 days of the Israel-Hamas war. Please also read: Israeli hostage's family says they're "desperate" after 100 days of war.

One hundred days into the Israel-Hamas war, more than 23,700 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian enclave's Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, in what the United Nations calls a "humanitarian catastrophe."

CBS News producer Marwar al-Ghoul lives in Gaza and has been covering the war since it started. He spoke with CBS News reporter Haley Ott over the phone from the southern city of Rafah about the situation in the Palestinian territory after 100 days of war. The interview below has been lightly edited for clarity.

Haley Ott: What do people need to know now about what is going on in Gaza right now?

Marwan al-Ghoul: Even now, I can hear airstrikes in Khan Younis and the north of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli ground invasion and military operations are still continuing in most areas of Gaza Strip, except, I can say, Rafah, which Israel claims is a safety zone in the south of the Gaza Strip. There are humanitarian tragedies in this city, which has received more than one million [displaced] people — I'm talking about half the population of the Gaza Strip. This has caused a lot of suffering for humanitarian needs, like a lack of food, fuel, cooking gas, all aspects of life. Everything people may need, there is a lack of it.

At this moment, I'm talking to you in Rafah City, which is supposed to be or is claimed as a safe zone. Last night, four kids were killed in an airstrike in a house in Rafah.

CBS News producer describes scene in Gaza: "I saw death, bodies, everywhere" 05:32

Gaza City, the central and the biggest city of the Gaza Strip, around one million people used to live in this city before the war. After October 7, today, after 100 days of war continuing on Gaza and according to the pictures and videos that emerge from the city, it has become very difficult — even for me as a resident of Gaza City — it's very difficult to identify or to know the features of the city after it was bombed. 

There's massive destruction everywhere on the infrastructure of the city, complete destruction of the streets, presidential buildings and homes mostly destroyed or burned. Several international institutions, including the United Nations, say that 70% of the buildings and homes were either completely destroyed or severely damaged. So clearly this huge destruction will take many years to restore, which means the international community will confront a major challenge.

Ott: You've been covering the situation in Gaza for many, many years. How is it to be a journalist now covering this conflict?

CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul reports from the scene of an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.  CBS News

Al-Ghoul: Well, it's a very, very important question. It's very difficult to handle and manage between my life, private life, as a journalist, and covering what's going on on the ground, the conflict, bombing, everywhere. And once I go outside to cover any story regarding the war and see the children killed in the hospital by airstrikes, I imagine my kids. My grandkids, if they could be those kids. It makes me sick. It really makes me sick. And everyone must keep in mind that more than 100 journalists were killed in this war. [NOTE: The Committee to Protect Journalists says that as of Jan. 12, it had confirmed the deaths of 79 journalists and media workers in Gaza, but officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave put the figure at 115.]

Every moment, even when I sleep at my house, when I hear bombing, most of the nights there's bombing around, and my children, my kids, jump out of the doors of where they are sleeping and are crying through the night, which is terrible. It's miserable, you know, to see the kids are suffering, because most of the people killed are children and women. So this, again, makes me imagine if it could happen to my kids or my family, you know. It makes me very, very sad all of the time. Sometimes I live, not sometimes, most of the time, I live under tense, high pressure, thinking around the clock about my family, what happens. And I feel sad, also, most of the time. I lost a lot of friends. Good friends, civilians, family members. Every day I receive the news that I lost someone I know.

Ott:  What do you think is going to happen? What do you want to happen?

Al-Ghoul: I don't know. This is a very, very difficult question. Let me tell you about the people that are displaced in Rafah who are half of the population of the Gaza Strip. When I meet them to interview them, the question is: 'When are we going back home?' And the second question, if they go back home: 'Shall we find any house to live in, or we are going to live in tents?' This is the question. I'm afraid that this new generation of people who live in this war, it's very difficult to imagine what future is waiting for them.

Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority president in West Bank 01:56

Ott: Is there anything that you want the world to know right now?

Al-Ghoul: Well, I want to talk, in general, regarding the victims...  Israel says that the war is on Hamas. But on the ground, it's completely different. Most of the children or the victims who came to the hospital, I saw them with my eyes, and everyone can see them on TV news, they are children and women. 

During the 100 days of the war in Gaza, Israeli military operations are still continuing on the ground, from air and sea, as Hamas is still continuing underground and is capable of of launching missiles toward Israel… which raises many questions about [the] Israeli ability to achieve its goals of defeating Hamas and freeing the hostages. Residents of Gaza hope to return back to their homes and rebuild.

CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul, left, speaks with Palestinian women and children displaced from their homes in the northern part of the territory at a tent camp in the south.  CBS News
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