Gaza conflict: Contrasting views on targeting

Several UN-run schools sheltering thousands of Palestinians fleeing from the Gaza conflict have been hit by shelling since the conflict began.

Deliberately targeting civilians who are sheltering in buildings that have no military purpose is illegal under international law.

Israel denies targeting the schools, but has said some of them were hit accidentally.

line break

Sophie Tal, 23, is a history student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has two brothers and a boyfriend serving in the Israeli army and explains why she thinks the military should target hospitals and UN shelters.

Sophie Tal Image copyright Sophie Tal
Image caption Sophie Tal says she wants Hamas to stop fighting so the war can end

"This is about us defending ourselves from terrorists.

Hamas broke the ceasefire first by sending a suicide bomber into the tunnels to blow up Israelis only two hours into the agreed 72-hour ceasefire.

I feel very sorry for the people in Gaza too, but what can we do when they have fighters shooting at us from hospitals, from the roof of UN schools and using these places to launch terror attacks?

We have to stop the terrorists who are using their own people as human shields.

In this case targeting those buildings is the moral and right thing to do.

I am very worried. I have two brothers Reuven, 19, and Aaron, 21 who are fighting in the army.

My boyfriend Chanan is fighting too. I dread receiving the news one day that one of them has been killed like Hadar Goldin.

I have the radio on at the moment and you can't listen to music or any programmes because every five seconds they are interrupted with an announcement of a red alert.

I am struggling to study for my exams because the air raid sirens keep going off and we have to go inside the shelters.

Israel had the fire power to finish this a lot quicker. We could have bombed Gaza completely but we didn't because we are more humane than Hamas.

Instead we sent in a small number of troops and we give them warnings and what do they do? They set booby traps for our soldiers and Israeli people are dying.

It isn't just a question of whether the Israeli soldier (Hadar Goldin) was kidnapped or killed.

That could be my brothers, or my boyfriend getting killed.

I know Edna, Hadar's fiancee. The whole family went from hoping he was alive to despair.

She is one of my friends. We met doing national service together three years ago and she lives quite close to me.

What is she going to do now? This has to stop and I hope it stops soon. I hope Hamas stop and then so can we."

line break
Smoke rises from rockets over a UN-run refugee camp in Jabaliya in northern Gaza Image copyright AP
Image caption Rockets have landed by three UN-run schools where thousands of displaced Palestinians are taking refuge

Since the conflict began three weeks ago, 1,740 Palestinians have been killed and 9,080 have been injured, Gaza's health ministry says.

Yousef Switi, 61, is a Palestinian paediatrician. He works at the El Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza that was hit by Israeli rockets in July. He says targeting hospitals and UN shelters is "criminal".

We have treated more than 1,000 people since the start of the fighting. They are mainly civilians, including women and children, ordinary people like you and me. There is nowhere safe for them to go.

A lot of the people we see have shrapnel buried deep in their bodies. These are very difficult cases for us and we are working flat out, but there are always more injured people coming in.

The Israelis say they have to bomb the hospitals and shelters because there are fighters here, but that is not true. The only people we have are sick people. You never see any fighters or soldiers on the streets.

It's just not true and yet the rockets keep coming.

Firing on hospitals and schools is inhumane and this is the third time this has happened. Palestinians who have been forced out of their homes by Israeli rockets are not safe in the shelters, you are not safe in the streets.

For those of us who still have homes it is now better to stay at home and wait for the rockets to end your life, either on purpose or accidentally because the Israelis don't know what they want to target.

How can they win when they have no military targets, it is just civilians they are firing on? We are not attacking anyone.

We have no government here. We never see Hamas, they are not in front of the people, we can't talk to them or go to them to ask them to stop the fighting.

The water is running out and there is no electricity. We have not had electricity at home for seven days. The salt in the water means it is not suitable for drinking but without electricity you cannot purify the water in the amounts you need. Even the markets are closed. I have eight children, four of them are married. They are all at home now, just waiting to see if this is the day they will die.

My family and I are all politically neutral, like most people here. But that does not save you. Nothing can save you, only God.

The rest of the World just watches, it stands by and does nothing or maybe cheers on the sidelines. Meanwhile we are working all hours in the hospital to save lives, without pay and soon without hope.

More on this story