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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 17:05 GMT
Viewpoints from Sderot and Rafah
On one side of the Gaza-Israel border lies the southern Israeli town of Sderot where 22,000 residents live within easy range of the unguided rockets fired by Palestinian militants. On the other are the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants blockaded by the Israeli army, though since Wednesday able to reach Egypt thanks to militants who blew up border defences.

BBC News website readers from either side describe their experiences.

HAVA GAD, SDEROT, ISRAEL

Hava has lived in Sderot for 11 years. She is married with three children.

Map of Gaza
I moved here because I was looking for a small, quiet and wonderful place for my children to grow up in. That's what it was like here then.


It's still wonderful, just the rockets have changed everything.

It started to change seven years ago, but the rockets weren't so dangerous as they are today.

When the rockets start I shake and I can't breathe. I have to take valium to calm down. I get stomach cramps.

My nine-year-old son gets asthma because of the stress. He wets the bed and is not able to concentrate well at school.

The children spend all day in the classroom because they are not allowed out. We all sleep in the safe room at home.

I used to work as an office manager at a kibbutzim. But because I don't sleep at night properly, I stopped work three years ago.

I used to work with someone from Gaza and I still have his mobile number. I last spoke to him a month ago.

We call each other and say we miss each other. He can't come to Israel any more.

When I was a teenager I remember going to Gaza. My father had a Palestinian friend and we were invited to Gaza and they were invited to us. I miss that.

A lot of people say they don't care what happens to the Palestinians in Gaza.

I am a mother and I don't want any children getting hurt. When I saw Palestinian children getting cold because of the fuel shortages on TV the other night, I cried.

However, I don't think the Palestinian government wants peace; the citizens do.

I never think of leaving Sderot. This is my home. If we left, that would mean Hamas had won.

MOHAMMED OMER, 23, RAFAH, GAZA STRIP

Mohammed Omer is a journalist based in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.
The wall dividing Egypt and Gaza at Rafah
Palestinians climb over the wall dividing Gaza and Egypt at Rafah

I went to the border at Rafah today and saw several hundred thousand people crossing to buy things such as milk, cheese, medicines, cows, goats and washing powder.

I support six brothers, my mother and sister with my salary.

We currently have no running water at home and electricity is off much of the night.

Mother had to sleep on a hospital floor when she went for operation recently due to the lack of equipment.

I have sympathy for all human beings, but I'm not in a position to criticise the rocket fire [by Palestinian militants at Israel].

My brother was killed in 2003 by the Israeli army, who also demolished our home in Rafah even though we are just ordinary Palestinians.

You don't feel safe anywhere in the Gaza Strip. It's dangerous everywhere; Israeli helicopters and F-16s overhead all the time.

The hardest thing is going in the streets of Gaza to find body parts scattered everywhere. So many people have been killed here over the past few days.

We are living under occupation. I've been applying to Israel to go to the West Bank - which is part of my country - and I'm not allowed.

We need to work out how to make a settlement, so Palestinians and Israelis can make a living, and to calm things down.

It doesn't matter if we are Muslim, Jew or Christian, we are all human. None of us should suffer.


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