Middle East

Gaza crisis: Israeli and Palestinian voices

Israel launched its military offensive against Gaza on 14 November, marking the latest eruption in a conflict with Palestinian militants which has raged between the two sides for years.

The latest violence has left dozens of people dead, many of them civilians.

Here, people from Gaza and Israel share their experiences and give their views.

Muhammad Abu Shaban, Gaza City: Wednesday 21 November

We are getting explosions every five to six times an hour. They are very close by. My house shakes when they go off. I can see smoke. It is bad, espcially at night.

My sister lives in Tal al Hawa and planes dropped leaflets telling locals to evacuate. I left my house for the first time since the attack to go and get her and her one-year-old son. A taxi drove me to her house. I felt really scared. The streets were empty. I read my Koran all the way.

We took some food and water from her house and brought them back to my place. On the way back, I stopped at a friend's shop to buy more supplies. We are OK for now but his shelves are running low.

The sky has more spy-planes now. I am terrified of a ground invasion.

Joel Salkin, Ashkelon, Israel: Wednesday 21 November

There have been five alarms already today. The first was at 0745. We hid in the stairwell.

I'm amazed at my stoicsm. If it wasn't for my lady, I wouldn't even get myself to the stairwell.

We have made a 'club' for the children and we are entertaining them. The residents of our building have seven children, all under five-years-old. The children know what is going on, of course they do.

We went out yesterday and managed to get our food shopping done. Supplies seem to be OK at the moment.

The residents are used to this. It has been going on for 12 years now.

Ibrahim, Gaza City: Wednesday 21 November

I am the breadwinner looking after 11 family members including my wife, two children, parents and five sisters.

We have spent a whole week now in the house since the escalation of air strikes. It is very hard to go outside, it's just not safe. The bombs are targetting civilians and they fall from the air and also from warships. We are watching the news all the time when we can and we haven't slept.

Every day, the electricity is turned off for eight hours. It's winter here so it is cold but inside the house we are OK. We have enough food and water but medicines are running out. My elderly father has a heart condition and I haven't been able to get any medicine for him. Everything is closed. I can't go to work and I can't go to the shops.

Lately I've seen lots of trucks evacuating people from north of Gaza. The refugees are staying in UN schools.

People don't want this situation to continue, we all want a ceasefire. There has to be an end to this cycle of violence.

I worry so much for my children. My son, who is five-years-old, has started to think that this way of life is normal. He was watching the TV looking at the children dying, my wife quickly jumped up and turned off the TV but he shouted "I want to see this". Later he said that he didn't want to do his homework "until the war ends". I am so worried that he knows what war is like.

Michael, Tel Aviv, Israel: Wednesday 21 November

My friend in the south hasn't left his home in a week now. He says that riding the bus is too dangerous so everyone is staying indoors. Also, some universities have closed and a lot of the students have moved to the north where it is a bit safer.

I heard on the news about the bomb blast which hit a bus. But it was quite far from where I am. In Tel Aviv it has actually got a bit better because all the attacks are in the south. Generally, Tel Aviv has had fewer rockets so no alarms.

Life is a bit better but it is very depressing.

Muhammad Abu Shaban, Gaza City: Monday 19 November

The situation here is getting worse.

Attacks are taking place 24 hours a day. Last night was the worst night for air strikes so far. There were huge explosions all night.

They were so close that you couldn't sleep.

The amount of ammunition fire being used is unbelievable.

They are still attacking buildings all around us. The closest one to be hit was 200m away.

I have not been able to leave the house. On Saturday, I went to the shops about 100m away, just to get some food, but that was my first time outside in days.

The power has been out for four days. We are relying on a generator for electricity, which we just switch on briefly at night. We are also running out of water.

We are now preparing for a ground invasion, which is not going to be a good situation for us.

Attacks are already increasing as it is, with civilian areas being hit repeatedly.

Many people are being killed. I am not optimistic at all.

Joel Salkin, Ashkelon, Israel: Monday 19 November

The women and children here are terrified. Although I'm terrified too, I can't show it.

The air-raid sirens sounded 10 or 11 times on Sunday and twice so far on Monday.

I live on the sixth floor of my building and every time they sound we have to go into the stairwell on the fifth floor.

One rocket hit a house about 1km (0.6 miles) away on Sunday.

It damaged the building, but thankfully there was no-one home at the time.

I keep looking in the direction of Gaza to see what's coming next. I can't see any end to it, with both sides saying, 'We'll only stop if they stop.'

The rest of the world has to realise that we can't live under the constant threat of incoming rockets and bombardment.

I have seen for myself the effect that this has on people and it cannot continue.

Hamas seem to be winning the propaganda war, but until they stop saying what they're saying, this will continue.

Although I consider myself a moderate, I cannot see any solution to this problem without this threat being removed by any means possible.

Unfortunately, I think Israel will also have to go into Gaza on the ground.

Karmel, 17, Gaza City: Monday 19 November

I just heard that my cousin has died. I don't know what happened. I don't have any details yet.

I live with my uncle, grandmother, seven little brothers and cousins. I look after them and try to calm them down. They are still quite scared because the explosions haven't stopped.

I am feeling a little more secure compared to when the whole thing began last week.

I guess I am getting used to it and I am trying not to pay attention.

My uncle says we have no connection with Hamas whatsoever, so we should be safe. I think the Israelis have specific targets, so we should be OK. There's no reason for us to be part of it.

We haven't left the house at all. It's too dangerous to go out. My uncle, who lived through the war a few years ago, knew from experience that he had to get lots of supplies, so we have food, for now.

I am not taking any sides in this conflict - I think both sides are wrong. I feel strongly against what Hamas is doing - firing rockets at Israel provokes them to fire back at us.

This is why we find ourselves on the receiving end now. They should stop doing that at once.

Michael, Tel Aviv, Israel: Monday 19 November

Over the past few days, we have witnessed the escalation of violence on both sides - with one difference.

As a former Israel Defense Forces [IDF] soldier, I can tell you that the IDF does its best, and more, to avoid civilian casualties.

Often we don't strike at targets because they are too close to innocent civilians.

I wish I could say the same about the Palestinians.

Over the past five days, they fired more then 700 rockets aiming at cities - including my city of Tel Aviv, hoping to hurt as many Israelis as they can.

War is chaos and when fighting there is the risk of civilian casualties but it's the exception and not the rule.

I hope the crossfire will cease soon and we can go on with our lives peacefully.

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