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Front Page |  In Depth |  Middle East |  Voices from the conflict 
Voices from the conflict
Introduction
Yonatan Yagodovsky
Israeli emergency worker
Mahmoud Shahin
Palestinian from Bethlehem
Ron
Israeli army reservist
Mohammed Bakri
Israeli Arab doctor
Yehuda Aslan
Israeli restaurant owner
Abu al-Abed
Palestinian militant
Gila Svirsky
Israeli peace activist
Map of Gaza Strip

Rifka Goldschmidt
Rifka Goldschmidt is an Israeli teacher in Gush Katif, the settlement block in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, which are illegal under international law, have often proved to be a flashpoint in the conflict. Rifka is a school teacher for 10 to 14-year-old children and has lived in Gaza since the late 1970s.

For the last few weeks, it has become a little safer since the army has done a little more work by going into Palestinian cities and towns where they were manufacturing weapons, where they were sending out their bombers, and we feel a little more secure.

Of course the army is on high alert and there are large numbers of guards. We do feel that we can rely on the security here, but on the other you never know what the Palestinians are planning. You have to be very careful because security can never be 100% - not because the army is not doing its utmost, but because the Arabs are always planning and doing things. Only on Saturday morning, four people including a five-year-old girl were murdered in Hebron. It gives you an idea what they are capable of doing if security were to lapse a little.

The Palestinians were not even clever enough or human enough to put aside their weapons to prove to the Israelis that they were heading to peace. What other proof does the world need that they are not heading for peace - that they are not interested in peace, but in war?
Listen to audio Real 28k
There was a time when we reduced tremendously our journeys out of this place because we felt very threatened on the roads, that we might be killed. Unless it was most important to travel out of Gush Katif we didn't do it. Many people don't leave their children at home without an adult. Before the intifada we lived in a very safe place where children could be left with their older brother or sister. We can't do that now because the Palestinians are trying all the time to invade, to break into our settlement and to murder people. They are times when we have a celebration, like a wedding or a Bar mitzvah. We can't hold it here... we have to have it in town in Israel because other visitors won't come here.

At the moment we are much more satisfied, because the army is doing more to ensure out security. They were able to before, but were held back by the political leaders. That is what we did not like. In order to reach some so called peace, things weren't done the proper way, and we were the victims. Now the army is doing much more and the political situation allows them to because you know how much murdering, killing and massacring there was of Jews by Palestinians.

We still have a problem with many Israelis who feel that they can support Arabs who come to murder us. This is something that I can never understand. If we come under pressure from Europe, I can understand. Maybe the Europeans don't understand the situation. Maybe they are taking sides with the Arabs because it serves some kind of interest of theirs. But I will never understand Israelis who know how many Jews were murdered by the Palestinians, but are still standing by them.

Some Israelis still dream and cannot put aside their old beliefs that have all been proved wrong. In the name of their ideology they are willing to push us out of here. Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians 95% of the territories, knowing that he was going to deport Jews from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in to Israel within the Green Line (1967 borders), but Arafat still rejected that initiative and chose to go to war. So what else can be done to prove to those Israelis that they were wrong. They still hold onto that dream.

I am a big believer in the Bible and In Jewish history. From this belief grows the fact that we are going to be settled in the whole of Israel one day. The Arabs are just occupying land that doesn't belong to them.
Listen to audio Real 28k
If the Arabs really understood us and really wanted peace, they would have ceased fire completely for some years, and they would have proved to us the settlers that it is worth our while to leave even though I don't believe that we should leave any territory because it belongs to us. But let's put that side. Let's say I take the view of the Palestinians. They were not even clever enough or human enough to put aside their weapons to prove to the Israelis that they were heading to peace. What other proof does the world need that they are not heading for peace - that they are not interested in peace, but in war.

I live here, to begin with, because it is ours. When Anwar Sadat [Egyptian president between 1970 and 1981] came to our parliament to make a speech to persuade Israelis why peace was so necessary, he came with a message. He said he wanted the whole of the Sinai back because it was his. He did not say that he wanted some kind of depth of territory that would give him security, or because of the archaeology or because of the oil wells he said he wanted it back because it is his. I am saying the same thing, and I am waiting for the Israeli prime minister who will say the same.

We settled here because it is ours. If we don't have the right to settle in the West Bank or in Gaza or in the Golan Heights, then we don't have the right to settle in Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem.

Many nations around the world have over the years said many things. Not everything they say comes about, and not whatever the international view is will come true. One day we are going to prove to the world that this territory is ours. It can happen either of two ways. One way is for the Arabs to remain here and behave like human beings. No-one is going to deport them, but they are not going to be Israelis. They can have their autonomy, but autonomy over their lives, not the territory. The other way is if they behave like they are behaving now, in a cruel way, like a group of murderers, they will be deported out of here.

We didn't push them out of here. They tried to push us out of here when we were within the Green Line. I want to remind the world that when Israel was within the Green Line, the Arabs attacked again and again. Why did they do it? What cause did they have then? They didn't have a cause. If the whole problem is the settlements, what reason to attack us did they have before 1967? This is more proof that where I live is not a settlement, and that Israel does not have to be within the Green Line. Israel needs to be in Israel, in all of Israel, because if Hebron is not Israel, then Tel Aviv isn't either.

I am a big believer in the Bible and In Jewish history. From this belief grows the fact that we are going to be settled in the whole of Israel one day. The Arabs are just occupying land that doesn't belong to them.



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