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Page last updated at 07:08 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 08:08 UK

Gaza voices: A year of Hamas

A year ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force. Immediately, Israel imposed a blockade on the territory to try to weaken the islamist faction and the militants who fire rockets across the border. Hundreds of Gazans also died in Israeli military operations.

BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool spoke to residents of Gaza about their experiences over the last twelve months.

Muhammed Huasanain, Fatah supporter

The last year, since Hamas took over, has been a very difficult time for me and my family. Hamas accused my brother of injuring some of their men in a shootout. They surrounded the house, but he escaped and managed to get out to the West Bank. Me, my parents, his wife, and his children haven't seen him since.

He can come back, but there are no guarantees that he will be safe here.

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Fatah people have got no voice and no power here in Gaza under Hamas control. They stop us having rallies - and use electric batons to hit us if we do.

Even on personal issues, if you go to any ministry which is controlled by Hamas, they want to make things difficult for Fatah supporters.

The split between people has increased in the last year, even between friends and families.

Fatah and Hamas friends don't walk with each other down the street. Even brothers in the same home don't talk... sometimes they fight and even kill each other.

We are living under a siege from Israel but also a siege under Hamas which is splitting relationships.

If Hamas control continues for the next year, there will just be more misery for people here.

Misbah Harbi Shalha, father
Misbah Harbi Shalha

In any normal situation, children would have the right to play outside in security.

But my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Mai, was killed right here - it's been a disaster for the family.

It happened in August. Hamas forces were training, on a hill close to our home. Me and my wife were sitting outside the house and my daughter came running, screaming, with blood all over her.

I picked her up and ran to a taxi to take us to hospital. The doctors found she had a bullet at the bottom of her skull - after three hours in intensive care, she died.

Hamas did an investigation, but they said around 150 people had been training that day, so it was difficult to figure out whose bullet killed my daughter - they closed the file.

In the 1990s, things used to be good. We had a proper legal system. At the moment, we have no law and order.

I wish I lived in a place where there were courts, and the law, to deal with these crimes.

Amin Abu Auda, policeman

I have been a member of the police force, run by Hamas, for nine months.

For many years, I worked as a labourer in Israel, laying tiles - they treated us well, but then work in Israel was stopped.

Then, I worked in construction here in Gaza. But, since last year, the blockade meant no cement has been allowed in. All the building projects were frozen. We lost our work.

At that time, Hamas was asking for people to join its security force. What could we do? We have to work to feed our kids.

In the end we have to survive, so I chose to join them.

It's true there is risk in the work, but now I feel I'm serving my country. I'm dealing with my people, and I treat them well, because I understand their suffering.

Since I joined the Hamas force, I feel there's more stability in my life. At least at the end of the month, I'm guaranteed to have a salary.

Alaa Jamil Shabat, student
Alaa Jamil Shabat

I am going to sit my exams this month.

Last year, we had to do our exams during the takeover by Hamas. We couldn't concentrate on our studies when we heard shooting all the time.

When you hear news that your cousin has been kidnapped by this party, or another cousin has been kidnapped by that party, it's very disturbing.

Then there's the fighting with Israel. My school's on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, less than 1.5km from the Israeli fence.

We see the Israeli tanks and the incursions coming through the area. We see lots of fighting.

Many of my friends at school have lost their legs and have been wounded in the attacks.

My dream is, when I finish my exams, to leave the country and study abroad, in medicine or engineering. But my parents are old, and can't be left alone.

In this terrible situation I can't abandon my family. And it is so difficult for people to get out these days, which makes me think I'll have to study at the Islamic University in Gaza, because it's the only choice...

Honestly I hope that the situation will get better and won't carry on this way.

Mahmood Saluha, businessman
Mahmood Saluha at his hatchling farm

I am the manager of one of the biggest hatchling farms here. We can produce a million chicks a month.

The last 12 months, as a businessman, have been a disaster, because of the blockade.

I used to be able to travel outside Gaza for meetings or lectures, but I have been blocked from all that now.

On top of that, every stage of my business has been badly affected... there are delays in egg deliveries which affect their survival, delays in the food, shortages in fuel and vaccines - everything.

A big disaster has been the shortage of gas, which we need for the incubators.

Over the last period that we got no gas deliveries at all, the chicks were all dying because they were not at the right temperature.

We had to take the decision to kill 150,000 chicks that simply wouldn't have survived. It was devastating.

I wish the last 12 months had been a dream, not a real period in our lives, because everything has been destroyed.


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