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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 14:20 GMT
Gazans hopeful over border moves
Palestinian labourer waits at Erez crossing
Thousands of Palestinian labourers would benefit from open crossings
Israeli, Palestinian and EU officials have welcomed a deal to reopen Gaza's border with Israel and Egypt, which will prove crucial to improving Gaza's crippled economy.

The BBC News website spoke to three Gazans about their hopes once the crossings are open and what it could mean to them, both personally and professionally.


FAHMY SHURRAB, 29, TEACHER

It's a good step but we Palestinians hope this commitment will become a reality.

I worry Israel could wait for any action from the Palestinian side - such as an attack by Hamas or Islamic Jihad - to stop the negotiations.

If the borders were to open it would encourage the economy, especially for Palestinian labourers who are dependent on work in Israel to survive
For the Israelis to open the border is really not a big deal but it is right for the Palestinian people for many reasons.

Many of us are dependent on studying abroad - a large number of young students are doing PhDs and masters and for the past few years many students faced problems.

Their study was interrupted and it was a catastrophe.

Also, many Palestinian patients who were ill and needed to go for treatment in hospitals were not able to go.

Although, unlike many here in Gaza, I don't have relatives in the West Bank, I have some in Jordan and it would be so easy to see them if they opened up the borders.

At the checkpoints the Israelis are very cautious and afraid of us. They put extremely bothersome procedures for the Palestinian people and it can take hours, if not days, to get through.

If the borders were to open it would encourage the economy, especially for the tens of thousands of Palestinian labourers who are dependent on work in Israel to survive.

It would give them the chance to make money to feed their kids, improve their economic situation and make life come back to Gaza.

HAKEEM ABU SAMRA, 47, CIVIL SERVANT

Opening the checkpoints would be like providing vital oxygen for the people of Gaza.

At the moment it is not breathing but coughing. By blocking the crossings they have converted Gaza into one big jail.

Map showing Gaza border crossings and planned port
It will make many differences. It is important for the workers who have been left without jobs for more than six months as they have not been able to work in Israel.

About 2,000 workers have been given permission now to go into Israel.

This makes people feel there is progress in the peace process and that the situation will get better.

And let us not forget the sea port, which is essential for Gazans in terms of trade.

When they opened the Gaza-Egypt border earlier this year, thousands of people crossed to Egypt just because they could finally leave Gaza. They were happy to be able to trade and purchase goods.

I don't think an attack [by Palestinian militants] would change the decision to open the borders.

My personal feeling is that I hope things will be better.

At the moment, with the borders controlled by Israelis, business people are afraid to come down to Gaza to invest.

But after we take over these borders, we can encourage investors to come.

It is also very important for us to be able to move freely to the West Bank. Many of us have relatives there and such human relationships are very important.

After the Gaza withdrawal, Israel perhaps left us 50% alone, But if they had truly "withdrawn", then why did they keep holding the main entrances?

We reached 50% of our freedom after they left, now hopefully we will get the other 50% very soon.

NASR ZOMMO, 26, COMMUNICATIONS ENGINEER

If it makes one person's life better it is great.

For the past 10 years I have had trouble every time I have gone in and out of Gaza.

The economic situation has been very difficult - you feel like a mouse in a maze and every so often you are given a little bit of cheese
You have to wait in line to be humiliated and it is so hard to get in. Plus you never know if you can get out.

You have to call someone you know who lives near the border to see if it is open, sometimes you have to go back and forth three times just to check.

Plus I have work commitments, so I cannot afford to get stuck there.

The economic situation has been very difficult. You feel like a mouse in a maze and every so often you are given a little bit of cheese.

Hopefully this will give us some independence and power over our own fate.

I once tried opening my own business in Gaza but it was very hard. Lines of supplies were stopped, plus as soon as business people heard you were based in Gaza they were afraid no matter how good the prices.

All my family live there and emotionally it is very difficult. I was born and raised there and sometimes you can become desensitised to the pain and suffering and humiliation.

There is always the worry of an attack, but there is nothing we can do apart from hope people's lives get better so that slowly the people carrying out these things are isolated.

A root cause of the violence is the poverty and the economic situation. If things change for the better, it will give people a purpose to keep on living.




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