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Voices: Gaza ceasefire ends

Both Israel and the militant Islamist group controlling Gaza, Hamas, say they will not go on the offensive now that a six-month ceasefire in the Gaza Strip has ended. Two Palestinians in Gaza and two Israelis in the nearby town of Sderot tell BBC News what the end of the ceasefire means for them.

HAVA GAD, 43, MOTHER OF THREE, SDEROT

Hava Gad

A rocket landed 10 metres from my house last week. The ceasefire may have officially ended today, but in reality it was over long before that.

We had only three months of real quiet, from August until October.

I don't feel protected here, not at all. I hope that Israel does go into Gaza - even if citizens there get hurt. Because here in Sderot we are getting hurt.

Life is very difficult. We have my husband's salary from the bed factory here in Sderot, but it's barely enough.

I will vote for nobody in elections next year. Everyone in Israel and round the world talks about the citizens in Gaza, but not about us.

[Middle East envoy] Tony Blair asked [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert to open the border with Gaza. I tell you, the border never closed. A closure means nothing getting in. People have been bringing in a lot of weapons to Gaza over the past six months.

I am sure there are simple citizens like me in Gaza, who want nothing but to wake up in the morning, go to work and take care of the children.

But if I have to choose between my son or someone else's son, I choose my son.

FIKR, 39, HEALTH WORKER, GAZA CITY

We expect the situation to deteriorate: more incursions from Israel and more military operations in border areas. While the world is busy with Christmas, Israel can take action. That's what people here think, anyway.

Not that things improved while the ceasefire was going on.

We cannot have a long-term solution until we have unity among ourselves

Since the start of November, Israeli restrictions on all the crossings have significantly increased, affecting everything, especially fuel supplies.

We have 16 hours of power cuts a day. It means hospitals have to run generators for hours at a stretch, which they weren't designed for. So they break down - and because of the closure we have no spare parts.

We cannot have a long-term solution until we have unity among ourselves. I don't think [Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas will stand down when his term expires on 9 January. So, I cannot see the internal situation improving soon.

At work we have shortages of basic medical supplies: gauze, feeding tubes for premature babies. Recently a hospital here ran out of Haemovac - which is used to drain patients when they are having surgery.

Yesterday Unrwa suspended all their services for the refugee population, because they ran out of flour. Eighty per cent of people in Gaza live on food assistance. It's a big problem.

SAID ABDELWAHED, UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, GAZA CITY

Said Abdelwahed

The end of the ceasefire means escalation; bombardment, air raids. It means military activities on the border.

The last six months brought big pressures on our social life, on resources, all due to the Israeli siege. This was accompanied by high prices of goods smuggled in from Egypt through the tunnels. Some of the smugglers have made fortunes.

My gut feeling is that both Hamas and Israel would like to reach another ceasefire, because it's good for both sides. I cannot understand why they have not done so - nor why Egypt was unenthusiastic about mediating.

I can't see any progress being made towards a united Palestinian government. Hamas is in control of Gaza and that's it. I think both Palestinian sides are the losers in this, but Israel takes advantage of it.

The university I work for actually belongs to Fatah. This means that a Fatah member, no matter what his rank, may have a stronger say than a professor of physics, for example. Which is not how it should be.

The students are deprived of many things. They are disappointed young people with no hope or future in front of them, so they are in bad shape.

SHALOM HALEVI, 74, SDEROT

During the six-month ceasefire, the terrorist organisation shot more than 100 Qassam rockets into our area. So what is the meaning of this ceasefire?

Sure, it was a little bit quieter, but not much, and you never knew when the next strike would hit. One Qassam landed in the centre of town two days ago.

If this terror organisation in Gaza continues to grow and grow, after succeeding here, they will go to Europe and the US.

Arab countries all over the Middle East are praying we will act against it, because it wants to take them over too.

I hope Likud will win Israel's elections in February. This government is frightened of taking action, especially before an election, because they will make mistakes like they did in the Lebanon war [of 2006] and people in Israel will blame them again.

We have felt unprotected for the last eight years. I say again, if we do not throw these terrorists out to hell, tomorrow they will come and get you.



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