Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Gaza voices: Hamas and the truce

A Hamas press conference
Hamas' armed wing says it lost only 48 fighters during the conflict in Gaza

Three Palestinians across the Gaza Strip discuss the ceasefire and the role of Hamas in the war and its aftermath.

AHMED, in Nuseirat refugee camp

There is no mutual accord between Hamas and Israel in this ceasefire - each side has its own truce and conditions. So people think the violence might start again, once Barack Obama has been inaugurated as US president.

Everything has stopped now, apart from the drones circling 200m above our heads, round and round. It's a constant buzzing noise, very wearing.

It's like an adventure for Hamas, but people's lives are not a game

Yesterday was great though, people began to get back to normal.

The Hamas statements in the media, 'We didn't leave our homes, we will stay on in our broken houses, in a tent if we have to' are nonsense. There is so much suffering.

Why tease Israel, why play with fire? It's like an adventure for Hamas, but people's lives are not a game. Why bring about this war? It's not to open the crossings, because that can be achieved by the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

What's the point of making enemies with Israel? Israeli people can be good, we can live with them. But the amount of hatred here in Gaza, both for Israel and for Hamas... yes, hatred for both. You can feel it.

My family is divided over who to blame for this. My mother blames Israel for responding so harshly. The other members of my family blame Hamas for all this. But these views are for indoors only, no one must hear them outside.

When someone speaks out, Hamas are afraid, so they shut him up using force. Former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin used the same techniques.

A couple of days ago they shot someone in the legs here in Nuseirat camp, after he made jokes about the Hamas interior minister, Said Siyam being killed in a strike. Fatah people especially hated him.

Hamas has its spies who overheard him and they told the head of the intelligence services!

After they shot his legs, the man was shouting 'God bless Hamas!', so they wouldn't kill him. They left him bleeding in the street in the dark, and people only rescued him after the gunmen had gone.

We must stop playing these dirty games. Palestinian and Israeli residents should visit each other to discuss and explain things, the situation can't be solved by the leaders.

If we don't move forward, things will move backwards to violence, and very soon, I'm sure.

MUHAMMAD ABUSHABAN, in central Gaza City

Muhammad Abushaban

The streets are full of people; the banks are open, the markets are open. This is the first time in 23 days things have been like this.

We've gone to the bakery and bought some bread. We didn't have to make it at home.

My sister works in a bank and she's gone to work, my father too. All my friends are OK. Everyone is being so friendly in the street, asking about each other's families.

I am talking to you as I stand in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council, it's totally destroyed, it cannot be repaired.

Of course I don't blame Hamas, because what was happening to all of us was also happening to them. They were among us, they did not hide.

Hamas did their best to defend the Gaza Strip. If I could thank them, I would. They were fighting face-to-face with the Israeli army. They put themselves in danger.

No, I don't think Hamas put us in danger. Israel was attacking us and killing us, even when all we were doing was throwing stones. They don't want us to defend ourselves.

Israeli tanks must now leave Gaza. Enough is enough.

AMJAD SHAWA, relief worker, in southern Gaza City

The conditions here are catastrophic. People can go back to their homes, but so many of them are destroyed. And we're back to the old issue of shortages caused by the Israeli siege of Gaza.

I don't need to believe Hamas, I can see facts with my own eyes in hospitals

I went to the Shifa hospital yesterday. I saw so many bodies and injured people.

One doctor told me how he had had to amputate a child's leg in a hospital corridor because all the operation rooms were full. Hundreds of people: men, women and children have lost limbs.

There is no victory here. The main losers are the Palestinian civilians. A victory for me would be to get the Israeli criminals to court.

The issue is not Hamas. This military operation was against the Palestinian people. Today Hamas said that just 48 of them have been killed.

I don't need to believe Hamas, I can see facts with my own eyes in the hospitals.

I'm not afraid to talk about Hamas. Last year we [the non-governmental organisation] took a position criticising Hamas for violating human rights. We oppose any violation, whether it's from Hamas or anyone else, we do not keep silent.

We did meet Hamas officials about it back then, but other issues are more important now.

I am not a Hamas supporter, I didn't vote for them. I am completely independent. I support what gives us unity and what serves the people as a whole. We need unity. Hamas alone in Gaza and Fatah alone in the West Bank - is not going to work.

For me Hamas is not the issue, the main issue is the occupation. Despite the unilateral withdrawal, Israel was still controlling everything in Gaza.

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