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5 Feb, 2009 06:20

Between a rock and a hard place: survival in Gaza

Life has never been easy in Gaza. Now residents are counting the cost of being caught between Hamas militants on the one hand and the Israeli army on the other.

Many have lost everything: their families, their homes, their jobs and their health.

Hamas fighters are back on the streets of Gaza and their message is simple: We’re here – and we’re in charge.

It’s a message as much for the people of Israel as it is for the people of Gaza. Each day, as night falls, the fighters take up position around the Al-Zeitoun neighbourhood, their eyes glued to the skies and their fingers ready on the trigger.

But Majdi Abed Rabbo isn’t impressed with their bravado. Three fighters used his house for cover in the recent war, and in their fight with Israeli troops he lost his home and nearly his life.

For three days Majdi became a tool of the Israeli army. They forced him again and again to try to persuade his unwelcome new tenants to surrender. They refused – and Israel sent in a bulldozer to do what words couldn’t. Majdi lost everything – but not his hope for peace.

“I believe in God and maybe only because of that, the Israelis didn’t kill me. I have difficult feelings but I hope that Israel never does this again. I hope that the Palestinian negotiators continue to negotiate with Israel for peace. I don’t have any problems with Israel,” Majdi says.

Majdi says he never was – and never will be – a Hamas supporter.

Jabir and Nasser came under Israeli fire while collecting humanitarian aid from the Erez border crossing. Israel admitted its mistake, apologised, and brought the two men to Israel for treatment.

RT spoke to them in hospital. They said they thought it strange that Israel would first shoot them and later save them.

Back in Gaza city, they don’t seem to think it’s so strange after all. We’re not terrorists, they say, so there’s no reason for Israel to kill us:

“I am not a target of Israel; although the Israelis sometimes kill us and then afterwards say they’re sorry. I believe in God and maybe because of that I was transferred to Ashkelon hospital where yes, the health care was excellent and much better than we would have received here in Gaza,” says Jabir.

Nasser also praised the care he got in the Israeli hospital.

“I was so afraid the whole time I was in Israel about my children and family in Gaza. I felt guilty to be there when there were so many injured people in Gaza not getting as good treatment as me. I think if I’d gone to a hospital in Gaza, I would’ve lost my arm,”
Nasser said.

However, despite good care, both men are out of work because they can’t use their arms. And in a place like Gaza, where one job feeds ten mouths, they’re going to be hard-pressed to find a new source of income.