Middle East

Gaza-Israel conflict: 'It's not worth living'

Image copyright AP

The death toll from Israeli air strikes on Gaza has risen to 100, Palestinian sources say.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation on Tuesday to stop rocket fire from militants in Gaza. Hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza in the past few days alone.

Here, Israelis and Palestinians from Gaza share their views of the escalating situation.

Haytham Besaiso, 26, Palestinian civil engineer from central Gaza City

After the rocket strikes the streets are now empty.

We have heard there might be a land invasion tomorrow.

This is the third war in five years. The difference this time is that Israel has no purpose or objective that we can see. All they are doing is killing civilians and targeting homes. In the first war they clearly attacked militants. In the second war they targeted weapons arsenal.

The Western media is portraying this as payback for the deaths of those three Israeli students but no-one on the Palestinian side has claimed responsibility for it. Usually someone does admit responsibility and they are very keen to do so. We don't even know what really happened, yet this feels like collective punishment.

I've heard from the resistance teams here that Israel and Gaza intend to crush each other, even though we are the weaker side.

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Media captionThe view from mothers on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Living here is terrible. We are under siege. We can't import anything. We only have electricity for eight hours a day, that means you can't build anything. I am a civil engineer by trade but there are no construction materials. Manufacturing has been destroyed. Agriculture is massively diminished. We can't survive like this.

We are depressed. It's the first time that I feel like life isn't worth living.

We have to be allowed to live with dignity. The World needs to do something to help us. The peace process is very difficult and it has been going on for 20 years without resolution. There must be something in between. If the West wants to, it can organise something.

I am against the Israeli government, not the Israeli people but unfortunately the people are getting more extreme too in their views. It is the people who vote in the government. I think the Israelis are tired of this situation too and want a normal life but if they really, really, wanted to they could put pressure on their government to make peace but that is not happening.

Shimon Ben Shelaimi Zalman, clerk from Beit Shemesh, 30km (19 miles) west of Jerusalem

The first attack here was at about 10 O' Clock on Monday night and it happened again yesterday at 5.54pm too. I lived through the Gulf War and experienced an attack here in 1991 but my children - a girl aged 13, and a boy aged 11 - are finding it very hard indeed to live with.

They refuse to sleep here at night because we don't have an air raid shelter nearby or a protected room in the house. They are sleeping with friends in the next neighbourhood who do have a protected room.

My elder daughter, who is married and has a young baby, refuses to visit us because we don't have a sealed room.

England has not experienced anything like this since WWII but my wife and I go to bed at night and wonder, should we take off our shoes and trousers or not because you don't know if you are going to be woken up in the middle of the night and have to leave in a rush. We are finding it very hard to go to sleep at night with this threat hanging over us.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system has made many interceptions, but debris and some rockets have got through, causing damage

I work in a medical exports factory and we have had drills at work recently so we know what to do if we hear the air raid siren. The advice being given to people at home if they hear a siren is to take refuge in the stairwell but ours has large glass windows so I'm not sure that is the best thing to do really.

I know we have a professional army and I am grateful to them for protecting us but we can not rely on them to have all the answers. I don't have complete confidence in them or the decisions they make.

It gives me no satisfaction when any civilians are injured, whether they be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I can sympathise with Palestinians whose children must be suffering too. I think the Palestinians are being held captive by Hamas, the terrorist gang they voted into power. Unfortunately I can't see any solution to this.

I believe most ordinary people want this conflict to be over but there are extremist elements that don't want to see a peaceful resolution. The inevitable outcome of these attacks is that the voices calling for both sides to live in peace will become less popular as the Israeli suffering increases.

I would like to believe in a ceasefire but not if it only results in a short break in which they can re-arm and start the attacks again. I am not convinced this talk of an Israeli land invasion of Gaza isn't just propaganda. In my experience if you are going to invade, you don't talk about it, you simply do it. I can't see what will stop the rocket fire though.

Dania, 23, Palestinian English Literature graduate from Gaza

Image copyright Dania

Most of the buildings in Gaza are civilian homes. We really want a ceasefire but it has to be observed on both sides.

The media shows there's roughly an equal exchange of fire between the two sides but it doesn't show how much stronger the Israeli military capability is. When they hit us, it causes far more damage.

The conflict in 2009 was worse but yesterday was the first time in a long time we were reminded of how hard it can be living here.

The Israelis left a recorded message on our neighbours' phone warning them that they were going to strike and asking them to flee their home.

We were afraid and then we were told that they are doing this randomly and had told many people the same thing, so we stayed at home.

Here in Gaza we do not have the right to defend our homes, meanwhile Israel seems to use any means of defence.

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Media captionA three-storey house in Rafah, Gaza, was flattened overnight in an Israeli airstrike, Tim Wilcox reports

Stephen Chelms, dual British and Israeli citizen, Netanya, northern Israel

I feel sorry for the Palestinian losses but it is the fault of the Palestinians that we are seeing scenes of dead children because they do not evacuate their children. If there was an attack the Israelis would evacuate their children and make sure they were safe, but the Arab mentality of war and destruction doesn't encourage them to do that.

Their education system instead teaches them they have to liberate Palestine and to fight Sunni against Shia and Israeli against Palestinian. They are raising future generations of fighters to prolong the conflict.

Gaza could be prosperous, it has five-star hotels and the best beaches too. There's a lot of wealth there and they could overtake Lebanon as a tourist destination but Hamas is not interested in that.

The truth is women and children are being killed because they live close to the various uncoordinated Hamas militant commanders. If the commanders continue their attacks on Israel it is to be expected they will be attacked.

Image copyright AP
Image caption A petrol station in Ashdod, southern Israel, was hit in a rocket attack, causing an explosion and injuries

There is no unity between Hamas and the PLO either. In the last few days, while Hamas was firing rockets on Tel Aviv, the PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas was in Tel Aviv with his wife who was having treatment at a private hospital.

I don't think an Israeli land invasion is likely as it would cause us a lot of difficulties. These people don't care about themselves or anybody else. As you've seen in Syria and Iraq they do not value their own lives very highly and our soldiers could suffer heavy losses. I think air strikes are more efficient. We have good drone interceptors and we have very good commanders, but most of all our forces are united, unlike Hamas where they are a disparate group of commanders.

In the long term, I don't think rockets will solve anything. I think we need a third party-brokered solution and because of lack of credible alternatives that is likely to be the US who at least can easily speak to the Israeli government. Egypt could step in but they have their own problems to deal with.

I don't think Hamas will speak to anyone except Iran and who do you speak to in Hamas anyway because they are so divided? I think you would be looking at dealing with the PLO, and then treating Hamas separately. Hamas are only interested in destroying the Jews and any solution that doesn't involve that would not be acceptable to them.

Because of their extreme position we have to keep using our advantage which is our military fire power.

Interviews by Sitala Peek

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