Here’s What Life Is Like For People On Both Sides Of The Israel-Gaza Conflict
As Israel continues its air strikes on Gaza, and Hamas fires rockets into Israel, here’s how it affects ordinary people. Sheera Frenkel reports from Israel, and Abeer Ayyoub from Gaza.
1. Ne’ema Hazem, 12: “Life under wars is so hard, because there are people being killed every day and most of them are children as young as me. They haven’t lived their time yet.”
“Life under wars is so hard, because there are people being killed every day and most of them are children as young as me. They haven’t lived their time yet.
I always think, When will this stop? I want to live a normal life. Sixty-six years of occupation is too much, and 12 years of attacks is too much. I don’t want to leave my county, I only wish it was a safe place to live. My friend Shahed’s father was killed by Israelis before she was even born; she always talks about how hard it’s been to never see your father. She says that if she had seen him just one time, it would have been enough. So her mother used Photoshop to create a picture of her and her father, so that she could have a normal photo like every girl has. Shahed’s experience makes me worry about my own father, what would happen if he was killed by an Israeli air strike?
I started to have a phobia of loud sounds; when I hear a door being slammed, I scream. I always think it might be an air strike. Even fireworks became scary for me.”
2. Aviva Beigel, 60: “I’ve been living in fear for most of my life. For how long will this go on?”
“I’m 60 and I’m just so sick of all of this violence, all of this war. I remember when I was just a baby they were building the first shelters in Tel Aviv. Now, decades later, we are still running to hid in them? That’s not a way to live.
I’ve been living in fear for most of my life. For how long will this go on? I don’t want anyone to die, but I want our army to do what it takes so that the rocket attacks stop. That’s what every Israeli is saying to themselves right now, saying to the army and to our leaders: Stop talking and do what it takes to end the rockets.
I don’t want my children or my chidren’s children to have to run for shelter the way I had to my whole life.”
3. Bisan Shehada, 26, journalist: “Israel is the one to blame for starting all the violence in the area. Palestinians will never stay silent in the face of the Israeli occupation.”
“I feel I’m a hostage because I have nothing to do with the crazy ongoing conflict. That doesn’t mean that I don’t support the resistance, I support it as a kind of self-defense. But I always argue that there are unbalanced powers here and that Israel is causing many casualties and increasing the number of victims. The innocent people are the only ones who are paying the price. We are people who love and pray for nothing other than peace. But Israel is the one to blame for starting all the violence in the area. Palestinians will never stay silent in the face of the Israeli occupation. Life under rockets is terrifying. Women, children are being killed every day. I can’t sleep, I can’t go to the toilet, I can’t live normally. Every time I go to my office, my heart beats quickly. Israel doesn’t differentiate between fighters and civilians. What’s the guilt I committed to deserve such a life? Why does my 15-year-old have to live under this horror when his biggest dream is to be a football player? He’s always worried he will be killed before he achieves his dream.”
4. Shahar Amit, 26, student: “I watch everyone around me be afraid; that’s not a way to live.”
“I live in Sderot, one of the areas that’s been hardest hit by the rockets. Do you know what its like to have rockets rain down on you regularly? Almost every month, almost every week? It’s terrible, you never fully feel calm. I watch everyone around me be afraid; that’s not a way to live.
I was injured as a soldier in 2008, when I fought in Operation Cast Lead. Look here, on my arm — that’s a shrapnel wound. There were others in my unit that were much more badly hurt. Now I ask myself, Why did we go in there? Why did I get wounded and others die if we were just going to keep fighting the same war again and again? It doesn’t make any sense.
I’m not bloodthirsty. I’m not a killer. I don’t want innocent people to get killed. But I want the IDF to go in there and wipe out Hamas, wipe out any person that fires rockets on us so that we can sleep in peace at night. I know that might sound like a horrible thing to say, but I’ve been living like this, under rockets for too long.”
5. Nalan, 23, social media activist: “It’s not easy to be a Palestinian, but I am so proud to be one. We are resisting with all we have, social media, art, music, photography, this is our definition of resistance.”
“I call them operations because war is not a fair name for what is happening; war should be between two equal powers. But Palestinians don’t have an army, we have young, brave brothers resisting the terror.
The Israeli attack targets civilians. The explosions can be seen and heard near and far — I could see the F16 bombing in front of my eyes. Yesterday at noon, I thought one of the attacks was coming towards my home, I saw my whole life in one second, just like a movie. Then last night during the attacks at the Tal Al-Hawa area where I live, the electricity was cut off and I could see nothing , I only could hear and feel every bomb and explosion. I thought we were dying last night, but somehow we survived.
I do my best to cover the situation through social media. Sometimes I take pictures while we are under attack, and my mother freaks out, but she knows that it’s all about Palestine, it’s all about my father that I lost because of the blockade. It’s all about the children who are dying right now while I’m uttering these words, this is because of the Israeli so-called self-defense, even though it’s killing innocent people, my people.
Going through all of this — but even worse than the last two times — is killing a part of my soul. I’m trying to hold on to my humanity as much as possible. It’s not easy to be a Palestinian, but I am so proud to be one. We are resisting with all we have, social media, art, music, photography, this is our definition of resistance.”
6. Salma Shova, 48, taxi driver: “It’s always hardest on the children. They become traumatized, they can’t understand what is happening.”
“In Israel, if violence isn’t starting in one place, it’s in another. Where I live in Eilat [along Israel’s southern border with Egypt] we’ve had rocket attacks from militants in Sinai. For a long time we thought we were immune, we thought we were a little oasis of quiet. But that’s not true.
My daughter lives in the center with her kids. If these rockets keep up, maybe she’ll come stay with me and bring her kids. It’s always hardest on the children. They become traumatized, they can’t understand what is happening.
I don’t think its fair for children anywhere to have to experience this sort of thing. I wish we could keep all the innocent people safe, but I know that’s not realistic.”
7. Saleem Hussam, 23, software developer: “Gaza is a place where life is unbearable.”
“I’m totally not satisfied with what’s going on here. Desides the blackout crisis, the seven-year-old siege, now we are under fire until I don’t know when; Gaza is a place where life is unbearable. I think that the Palestinian resistance is defending us against a very strong army. There is no balance between the two powers. The Palestinians killed so far are not making Hamas any weaker, it’s totally the opposite. Targeting civilians is a good evidence Israel is failing to weaken Hamas. I think that this war will continue for longer, but I believe Israel will fail to achieve any of its goal this time. The Palestinian resistance proved it has been improving. I can see the difference between how organized the work of resistance is and how random the Israeli actions are.”
8. Yuli Hapoal, 71, retired: “I just want all our enemies dead. I’ve had enough.”
“I want Israel’s army to just go in and wipe them out. I want Hamas to be over. I’ve lived in southern Israel my whole life, I’ve seen war after war after war. They just need to end it already.
I think the last few times they stopped the operation too soon. I don’t know what Netanyahu was thinking. Stopping when he did only ensured there would be another war.
Unless they go in and eliminate all their rockets, make it so that they can’t fire on us anymore, this will never end. That’s what they need to do.
I’m more than 70 years old now. I’m done running from shelters. I don’t run anymore when I hear the siren. Enough is enough. You can’t spend your whole life running.”