A Palestinian journalist has told how he escaped with his family from his neighbourhood in downtown Gaza after it was pounded by Israeli airstrikes over the weekend in an attack which killed 15 of his neighbours.

Fady Hanona told RTÉ News of what unfolded in the early hours of Sunday morning when at least 42 people died, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

"What happened in my neighbourhood at 1am, a heavy attack started and ... my son was crying, my wife, my mother also. And my father, who has cancer."

Mr Hanona said he and his family - including his two-year-old daughter and six-year-old son - were stuck there during the bombardments and saw fire all around them before they managed to escape.

As they fled, they came across scenes he will never forget.

"We went to the street and we were walking past the bodies of our neighbours. This is something I can't believe and I can’t forget."

He revealed that 15 of his neighbours had been killed in an Israeli strike and "100 others were injured".

In just the small area where the journalist lived, three buildings were completely destroyed, and two others were damaged.

Mr Hanona said it was hard to accept that his neighbours are no longer alive. "One of them sells vegetables. One of them has a small shop and sells toys. They are civilians. I know them very well."

Bodies remain under the rubble where the attacks happened, he said.

Two local people who were killed in the attack reportedly worked for the World Health Organization in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a tweet, the organisation expressed its deep sadness at the loss of the men's lives and passed on its condolences to their families.

Fady Hanona also shared images online of his neighbourhood, before and after the attacks.

As a journalist, he has covered this conflict for a long time but said these latest attacks have "destroyed everything" and he is worried about how his children will be affected.

"Especially my son. He’s really afraid all the time. If he hears any noise inside - the noise of a door - it scares him, you know. After the ceasefire I will work on getting treatment for him."

He said it will not be possible for him or his family to return to the neighbourhood where they lived for months now, as all the local infrastructure has been destroyed.

"They destroyed the facilities, electricity, water, internet. It’s unbelievable."

Most of all, Mr Hanona will miss his neighbours and he still cannot believe he will never see them alive again.

"I can’t imagine my neighbourhood without these people, every Friday when they go to pray."