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Gaza Israel Ceasefire: Civilians Talk About Death And Peace

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After eight days of fighting and over 150 killed, Israel and Hamas brokered a fragile ceasefire last Wednesday, but how long can it last? And who do ordinary Israelis and Palestinians think has come out on top?

The Huffington Post UK has been following the stories of a Gazan journalist and a southern Israeli during the conflict. So what do they think?

"After 8 days of bombing and destruction of the Gaza Strip, we have triumphed and Israel is defeated," says Palestinian Maha Shahwan.

"Israel accepted a proposal for a cease fire, taking into account that the aims that had been set for this campaign, had been achieved," says Israeli Adele Raemer.

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A Palestinian boy looks from the rooftop of a destroyed house in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 25

Official opinion is mixed to say the least. Iran is calling it a victory for Hamas whilst some in the Israeli press are trumpeting the "game-changing" effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Others are saying that Israel did not go far enough in order to deter further attacks.

On Saturday, a prominent Gazan cleric ruled it a sin to break the truce, giving it a badly needed degree of religious legitimacy.

Whatever the verdict, incidents like the shooting of 20 Palestinian demonstrators by the Israeli Defence Force and sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, demonstrate how quickly events have the potential to spiral out of control.

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Palestinian schoolchildren walk in debris by a damaged school in Gaza City

Raemer, and Shahwan, have spent the conflict on the blurred front lines on their respective sides of the border, constantly under threat from rockets, airstrikes and artillery.

Their diverging views amply illustrate the difficulties that lie ahead.

"When the shooting stopped we went out on the streets and handed out sweets. We were happy despite the martyrs and the wounded," Shahwan told The Huffington Post UK.

News of the ceasefire was bittersweet for Shahwan. On the same day it was announced two of her cousins aged 23 and 26 were killed when an Israeli airstrike destroyed their house.

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An Israeli policeman examines the damage to a school classroom hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip

She told The Huffington Post UK: "They were innocent people who did nothing, they were in their home watching the news when they were bombed by Israel.

"Their father had gone to pray at the mosque. When he returned he found the house destroyed and his sons killed.

"My aunt is in a state of shock. Sometimes she is happy and says "my sons died for Palestine".

"Sometimes she just cries."

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Damage to an Israeli house after it was hit by a rocket launched by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Beer Tuvia

Asked about the ceasefire and the prospect of peace with Israel, Shahwan is resolute. She told The Huffington Post UK: "I think there is no peace to be had with Israel; they killed innocent people in my country.

"It is not just Hamas who do not recognise the Jewish State but all the Palestinian people.

"Israel plundered our land and set up their own state, Israel does not want peace with the Palestinians. If they wanted peace with the Palestinians why would they kill them?"

When asked whether she would recognise Israel's right to exist even in exchange for total peace, Shahwan told The Huffington Post UK: "No".

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Palestinian militants of Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, mourn at the funeral procession of one of their leaders, Judah Shamallah

Israeli school teacher, Ramer, has a a completely opposite view of the conflict: "In war, as in any sort of gambling, it is important to know how to stop while you are 'ahead'," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"Ja’abari (Hamas' military leader), is no longer around to plan and execute more terror, and a huge percentage of the Hamas' arsenal – especially the long range missiles – have been destroyed."

Raemer insists that the damage caused by Israeli bombs in Gaza, including the death of Shahwan's cousins, is the fault of Hamas not Israel.

"I truly believe that the Israeli army is one of the most moral armies in the world. I am proud that the army distributes leaflets, warning Gazans of imminent attack on a building that has been targeted for destruction because intelligence has information of weapons being stockpiled in its basement.

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A TV reporter records the damage to an Israeli house after it was hit by a rocket launched by Palestinian militants

"Maha’s anger and despair are justified and understandable. However they are misplaced.

"Courtesy of the hate of Hamas, lives have been wasted, people have been maimed and homes have been destroyed."

From a purely numbers viewpoint, this is difficult to reconcile; the hate of Hamas killed six Israelis and the morality of the IDF killed only 150 Palestinians.

It is skewed thinking such as this on both sides that make the contradictory views between Israelis and Palestinians seem so unassailable.

As Raemer said: "It is difficult to imagine how we can ever hope to find a solution that will enable us to live as neighbors, in peace.

"Unfortunately, it seems that the ground incursion has only been temporarily postponed."

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