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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Gaza raids: Israelis give their views
Israeli soldiers

Israel is pressing on with its raids in southern Gaza, which it says are aimed at rooting out Palestinian militants and destroying tunnels being used to smuggle weapons into the Rafah refugee camp.

About 40 Palestinians have died since forces entered the camp on Tuesday and dozens of homes have been demolished since last week.

BBC News Online received hundreds of emails about the Gaza operations, many of which were from Israelis expressing support for the raids. We asked five of them to voice their opinions on the operations and what they feel the impact will be on the peace process.

Maor Shani, 23, student at University of Jerusalem

I usually support these actions. Last week, Israel lost 13 soldiers and the people of Israel saw the shocking sight of Palestinians waving body parts around in the street.

Maor Shani
Usually, when the IDF [army] goes in, I think it is because of combating terrorism, but this time I think it's revenge.

But, ultimately, the militants are hiding in Rafah. There is a lot of weapons smuggling. So eventually this action is preventing the attacks.

The biggest problem is Palestinian militants are hiding in the civilian population, so if Israel wants to defend itself sometimes its actions will kill civilians, unintentionally.

Usually, public opinion in Israel will believe everything the IDF says, but in last few years I have started to doubt them.

I think most of the actions are justified, but not all of them. I feel some actions are collective punishment.

I know a lot of commanders and soldiers are wanting to avenge the 13 dead soldiers.

I wish Israel would give some compensation for the people who are made homeless, as it would give Israel points on a global level.

I feel sorry for the Palestinians. I'm not glad to see them homeless and suffering, but I believe the spirit in Gaza is that a lot of Palestinians would like to kill us, they educate their children to hate.

Sometimes I feel we care about them more than they care about themselves.

Ranaan Bavli, 44, research and development

I fully support the Gaza raid. In fact I think that the measures the army is taking are too little and too late.

Ranaan Bavli
I believe it's time for Israel to take measures that will stop [attacks on Israelis], otherwise we will hit the 2,000 number in terms of casualties.

I am not willing to take the risk. I have two daughters, one of whom takes a bus to school. I have days where she refuses to go to because she is afraid.

I demand that my army and government provide me with the defence I need.

I don't think that collective punishment is the intention of this raid. But even if it is, I think that this is justified because I think the whole Palestinian population supports the terror and you never hear voices against it.

Voices like mine are never heard.

I live in Yeshiva, about 24km (15 miles) from the green line (dividing Israeli and Palestinian territory) and I've lived here all my life.

I belong to the silent majority who just want to live their life and are not willing to compromise on security.

David Spenser, 37, language instructor

I'm in favour of the incursions... the area is supposed to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority but somehow they are getting weapons in and explosives.

The only explanation is they are coming through Rafah in some kind of tunnel, so the logical thing for the Israeli army to do is cut them off.

Is this collective punishment? No. If the houses weren't used for the purpose of tunnels then, yes, but they aren't - so it is justified.

I live in Raanan, about 20km (12 miles) from Tel Aviv, in between two places where there have been bombings.

It's relatively safe - we have private security - but we are very close to the green line.

For my work, I travel up and down the country on buses.

I don't feel it's a problem, but my wife is hysterical because of the security problem of people blowing themselves up.

It's a hell of a way to live. These explosives are coming from somewhere.

The problem is, we can only go so far in a peace process if the other side isn't moving.

There is so much intransigence on the other side, we cannot be the only partner in the peace process.

Israel Dalven, 58, technical writer

I think [the operations] are absolutely necessary. They're trying to smuggle weapons.

Israel Dalven
It's part of a war. We feel it's absurd that everyone looks at us with a magnifying glass and we feel that's what happening is that different standards are being applied here than anywhere else.

The Arabs and the Palestinians had five years to develop peaceful institutions from 1995 to 2000 and they used the time to develop suicide bombers instead.

We're accused of blowing up a house in Gaza when it may be used to bring in rockets - that's ridiculous.

Every war is collective punishment, it's not a legal definition. We bomb a city that has military installations, then you kill civilians - it's war.

Israel is very good at winning the war and losing the peace. A short-term military activity is not going to guarantee long-term security.

There has to be a change in the system - they wipe a few out, but then they pull out and the infrastructure is rebuilt and the cycle just continues.

Jarrod Williams, 31, IT analyst

Unless somebody takes control in Rafah, violence will just happen again. We need someone to take control, whether it's the Palestinian Authority, Egypt or some international force.

You can't allow weapons smuggling on the scale that they do - it will only get worse and they will threaten Israel.

It seems like the PA doesn't want to do anything and has never tried.

I think if [Palestinians] are not prepared to do something about it they should accept the consequences. These people allow tunnels to be built in their houses and Israel has to do something to protect itself.

The only way to stop the smuggling is to put a force there which is prepared to stop the smuggling. Israel can't be the force in Gaza - we shouldn't be there.

Maybe an international force would be good idea, but Israel always seems to get the rough tend of the stick where international forces are involved.

No [Israeli] mother wants to send her 18-year-old child into the army and into Gaza at the moment. It's a thankless job.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




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