Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Sunday, 4 January 2009

Gaza voices: Living with conflict

Israeli ground forces are battling Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, after Israel stepped up its operation to try to halt rocket attacks on its territory.

Clashes have intensified in the north, with the Gaza Strip cut in two and Gaza City in effect surrounded. Both sides have reported casualties.

The BBC News website has been in contact with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who describe how they and their families are coping with the events.

MUHAMMAD ABUSHABAN, GAZA CITY

Muhammad Abushaban

The Israeli army started the invasion in the morning. We have been out of electricity for more than three days and out of water in the house.

The invasion started from three areas - two in the North and one in the East. We are living in the middle of Gaza City and are about nine or 10 kilometres from where they are.

At the moment the Israeli soldiers are close to one of the most important streets, the eastern street, they are at the beginning of it.

They are not only shooting the outside areas, the helicopters and F-16 are covering the ground invasion by hitting as much locations as they can.

My home is between the Islamic University and al-Saraia military building. Last night they attacked the military building with two rockets.

Until the moment we are at home listening to the radio stations and following up the news.

Since last night I have been trying to talk to friends but the mobile signal is very bad. I have many friends in Beit Lahiya but I haven't been able to speak to them.

I spoke in the morning to a friend who lives in a neighbourhood between Gaza City and the northern area, they are close to the area where they entered and right now they are trying to go to the higher place like hills and mountains.

AMJAD SHAWA, 39, GAZA CITY

All the Gaza Strip is under attack right now. Israel bombarded a middle area where there is a mosque and shops and many were injured. There are continuous air strikes everywhere in Gaza City.

Last night was a horrible night, we couldn't sleep at all. I spent the whole night with the family at one corner of our home since there were intensive air strikes by the F-16 air fighters.

There was an air strike 200 metres from my home. The glass of my windows all fell down, so we spent the night scared and cold, my children were screaming. The attacks were continuous.

This happened as Israel closed all the crossings today preventing any humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The glass of my windows all fell down, so we spent the night scared and cold, my children were screaming. The attacks were continuous.

This means that there will be a real catastrophe, the hospitals already have shortages and it will be worse because of the increasing number of casualties.

We have no electricity and water has been cut.

I am staying at home because it is really dangerous to go out, the streets are completely empty, I can see no persons or cars.

We are following up events on a transistor radio, but it is difficult to listen to the news because of the intensive bombardments and air strikes. Mobile phones also have a weak signal, so it's difficult to communicate with my family.

One hour ago I managed to speak to someone I know in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. They are trying to evacuate the area but it's dangerous because of the continuous strikes.

We need actions from the international community to pressure Israel to stop. We have concerns about the lives of our children and the people here.

MKHMAIMAR ABUSADA, 44, BEIT LAHIYA

I live in the north-west of the Gaza Strip in Beit Lahiya but I left my home on Sunday and came to Gaza City where I have an apartment because of the fierce fighting.

I left because I thought that the shooting was getting closer to my home and my children were scared.

Since last night there have been heavy air strikes and artillery around Beit Lahiya.

We could hear the clashes between the Palestinian resistance fighters and the Israeli army.

I left because I thought that the shooting was getting closer to my home and my children were scared.

Some of the people from Beit Lahiya have left to stay with relatives and friends who live far away from the fighting, but the overwhelming majority of people have stayed because there is nowhere for them to flee.

If I did not have an apartment in Gaza City, I would still be there as well.

People are staying inside, they are not going into the streets because of the helicopters and artillery, and the fighting between Palestinian resistance troops and the Israelis.

The average Palestinian feels scared because they think the next bomb will explode where they live.

No one wants to get caught in the cross-fire.

Staying at home is not safe but the people have little option. Over the last few days the Israelis have targeted mosques, civilian homes, and that makes the average Palestinian feel scared because they think the next bomb will explode where they live.

Everything has been shut down since last Saturday when Israel started its air strikes. No one goes to work and the shops are closed.

The only things that are open are bakeries and pharmacies. The only people who are going to work are the people who work for the ministry of health.

I think it will be a matter of days until there is a ceasefire to put an end to this war but the ceasefire won't accomplish anything. The ceasefire will be based on Israeli terms and interests.



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