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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Gaza voices: Three-hour ceasefire

Palestinians across Gaza discuss the conflict in their area, and the relative calm offered by the daily three-hour ceasefires between Hamas and Israel.

BELAL BEDWAN, in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza

Belal Badwan
Belal says neither his house nor his uncle's is safe

The three hour ceasefire has been a big relief, but it's not the truce that we need. During yesterday's ceasefire I got some basic food supplies and cooking fuel from the market. It was crowded and the prices were high.

The second three-hour ceasefire has just started. I picked up a call from the Israelis on our landline today, it said: "We are the IDF: you have three hours to go and buy what you need."

This is the second call we've had, the first was at the start of the land war, then they said: "We will look after your humanitarian needs." But the fighting keeps taking place in civilian areas.

Just before you rang, there was a message over the loudhailer from the mosque. It said: "Civilians in Nuseirat camp, stay and support the fighters and don't let them down."

It went on: "We will deal with all the hypocrites who spread rumours against the resistance movement." It was a threat. We are caught between the two: Israel and the fighters.

Maybe in Israel leftists can demonstrate against the war, but we have no way of raising our voice to say "Don't fire rockets at Israel". If someone did, they might get killed for it.

I was watching a movie last night when I was disturbed by two rockets being launched [by Palestinians] from near my uncle's farm. I saw the lines of smoke rising from our land. These Palestinian rockets are very inaccurate and have landed on us in the past, too.

Then the Israelis targeted the farm - they have unmanned drones hovering above us day and night which may have spotted where the rockets came from. The Israeli weapons are very, very loud.

I don't know where is best to stay. There is a senior Hamas leader next to my house, but if we go to my uncle's, militants are near there too.

[Loud noise] That's an F16. It was flying so low! It wasn't firing, thank God, but it was to terrify us, for psychological impact. All the children who were playing on the roof have now come in.

SOLAFA, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza

Things are getting worse and worse. When the ceasefire ends at 1600 we don't know what will happen. There's no firing now.

Just before today's ceasefire started Israel shelled our neighbour's house - it's only about five metres from our home.

Shrapnel hit my brother in the abdomen and we took him to hospital, he is still there. My other brother has rung the hospital and has heard he's doing fine. We are very worried but we don't know what to do.

We stay on the ground floor because all the windows on the second floor have been broken.

Yesterday my brother went to the market during the ceasefire and brought a few things back. Mainly flour and dry goods, things that don't have to go in the fridge because the electricity is so unpredictable.

Local farmers haven't harvested their crops for two weeks. In this area they grow tomatoes, strawberries, eggplants and cucumbers.

Today we had bigger things to think about than to go shopping.

MAZEN, in Rafah, southern Gaza
Map of Gaza

Israel leafleted neighbourhoods of Rafah close to the Egyptian border yesterday - asking people to leave.

The places they wanted to target are about 200 metres away from our home, so we didn't leave. I used to have a house there, it was destroyed a few years ago before the Israeli withdrawal [in 2005].

Many, many people have left their homes in Rafah, but that's since the first day of attacks, not just from yesterday.

Today my children picked up another phone message from the IDF, telling us we have three hours to go and do our shopping, and telling us to get away from the terrorists.

It's all a psychological war and I think most people laugh at these messages, I certainly do. I picked up one about a week ago. It was a man, speaking Arabic with an Israeli accent. It's meant to scare us, to shake our self-confidence.

My part of Rafah is generally OK. I have been going out as normal whether it's a ceasefire or not.

There's only one local bakery with any bread, so there are huge queues. We have electricity although it's not consistent, and we have water.

We have some bread, vegetables, olive oil, cheese and zaatar [herb mixture]. The last two came from the tunnels. Most of our life in the last three or four months has depended on the tunnels. I hope they don't destroy them all. If they do, they will be rebuilt.

We have some Hamas supporters in our area. It's prayer-time now. The mosque is about 40m from my house, across the street. I don't really feel safe in there, but one should pray to God to make these things go away.


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