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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 17:31 GMT
Gazans discuss Israeli military raids
Three Palestinians in Gaza reflect on the last few days of violence - and the prospect of more to come.

MAHMOUD QALAJA, 20, STUDENT, GAZA CITY

Mahmoud Qalaja

It's miserable, the Israelis have killed 118 people so far.

Yesterday [Sunday], they killed a neighbour of mine, he was 15 and was playing football in the street.

They suddenly attacked a house near where he was playing. One of the shells hit him, I saw it happening about 100 metres away from me.

Six others in the area also died and some of his friends were injured.

I am staying at home now. I was supposed to go and study in Amsterdam, but I haven't been able to leave. I had visas for January and February and I'm still here.

I am not politically active. But I do want to live in peace without any trouble. We are in a political war.

Hamas are the only ones fighting the occupation - they are the cause of this invasion. They are the ones to blame.

On the other hand [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas has been shaking hands with [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert - at the same time Olmert is giving orders to kill us.

Abbas gave the Israelis the chance to invade Gaza because of the divisions between Hamas and Fatah.

We, the people, are the victims. I think Israelis and Palestinians are all exhausted by the bloodshed.

MUHAMMAD ABUSHABAN, STUDENT, GAZA CITY

Muhammad AbuShaban

We didn't take any hits but of course we heard the sound of Apache helicopters and spy planes all the time.

People outside think the Israelis are defending themselves. Hamas rockets make a hole in the ground and annoy the Israelis - so they reply with tanks and F-16s, destroying arbitrarily whatever moves in the street.

The problem is they are targeting government buildings, but civilian homes are in between, so children playing outside get killed too.

Last night I was teaching students in the refugee camp on the beach.

Helicopters fired on a house less than a kilometre away and the children were so scared I had to cancel the class.

Israel is not hurting Hamas, it is hurting the Palestinian people in general

Last night the F-16s swooped down really low. In fact they didn't fire, but it created as much fear as if they had.

Right now it's a bit more stable, but I don't believe it will be quiet while Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is here.

Israel is not succeeding in its mission to hurt Hamas; they are hurting Palestinian people in general.

RO'AA EL-HELOU, TEACHER, GAZA CITY

Ro'aa el-Helou
Ro'aa says her students are depressed

All of Gaza is closed at the moment, not even the markets are open.

I have not gone to work for three days. I teach at the American International School in Beit Lahya, but classes have been suspended.

We are victims simply for being Palestinian. The international voice is silent while Palestinian children are being killed. It is so depressing.

All I've been doing is watching the news, to see if someone we know has been killed. When the electricity is off, I listen to the news on the radio.

We expect the worst all the time because they [Israeli forces] don't discriminate between civilians or those in government.

I think Israel is using Hamas as an excuse to attack us.

Look at the West Bank. Palestinians there don't fire rockets all the time - but there's still Israeli aggression towards them.

There is nothing to do here really, no entertainment. Not much electricity.

When I look at my students I see sadness in their eyes.

Recently we were discussing the American colonies' struggle for independence from Britain. We talked about the meaning of "No taxation without representation" - it quickly became clear we were talking about our own situation.

We have no voice here either. It's not about being either Hamas or Fatah, it's about being Palestinian. We all need freedom and security.



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