Israelis, Gazans brace for cease-fire's end
A six-month truce with Hamas ends Friday. Violence between Israel and Gaza militants has flared in recent days.
(Page 2 of 2)
Last year, a rocket landing in the shopping center parking lot shattered the glass of one of his largest aquariums. Gallons of water – and the huge pink goldfish who lived in it – spilled to the floor. He has no solution to this conflict, he acknowledges, except to close down the border with Gaza.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"I don't want to fight them," he says of the Palestinians. "I just want to cut them off. They're not our responsibility now. Let the Egyptians take care of them."
Paradoxically, this frequently expressed sentiment is, in many Palestinians' eyes, precisely what is causing the problem. The constant blockade of access in and out of Gaza by Israel, which controls access to the strip by land and sea, is itself a kind of declaration of war.
"I think nothing can be worse than the current situation we're in, because already we live under very bad conditions, especially after the cease-fire agreement was signed six months ago," says Salem Taha, a Gaza textile store owner.
"The Israelis are the only ones benefiting from the truce," he says. "The Palestinian militant groups stopped firing the rockets at Israeli towns close to Gaza, and yet the siege on us only gets tougher."
He used to have three textiles stores, but closed down two of them and fired seven workers because of the worsening economy in Gaza. He has electricity only sporadically and lacks cooking gas for his family. "We want the crossings to be opened so we can travel, do business, and travel for medical treatment," he says.
In Jabalya Refugee Camp, Samia Khalid says she sends several of her eight children into the streets to collect empty cartons and pieces of wood to use in the oven now that cooking gas and electricity have become nearly impossible to come by. "We want the renewal of the cease-fire, but only if it means we start living a better life," says Ms. Khalid. "Smuggled things are too expensive. We can't afford to buy them."
Hamas says renewing the calm is unlikely to change the political or humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza.
"The truce ends tomorrow and our position is not in favor of extending it. It's our legal right to respond to any Zionist aggression against our people," says Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman. "The occupation will be fully responsible for the consequences and our actions will depend on the situation on the ground. All the military wings will get ready to take their responsibilities for protecting the Palestinian people and confront any Israeli aggression."