Israel-Gaza Conflict: Civilians Talk Rockets, Missiles, Death And Peace

'Where Is The Value Of Life In All This?'

Last week the Huffington Post UK brought you a first-hand account of what life is like for civilians living under the constant threat of death from the skies, both in Israel and Gaza.

In the four days since it was published, rockets, airstrikes and artillery barges have continued to rain down. The death toll on Tuesday is at least 110 Palestinians and three Israelis dead.

We caught up with Adele Raemer and Maha Shahwan to find out how the intervening days have been.

Israeli troops gathering near the Gaza border

Shahwan, a journalist in Gaza, has had to live with intermittent power and Israeli shelling from both the air and the sea.

She says: "At the beginning of the aggression on Gaza, I felt a little intimidated but after three days of continuous shelling the situation has became normal.

"Previously, Israel was shelling Gaza and no one (in the international community) was standing with us.

"Now I'm happy because a lot of countries around the world are becoming aware of the real situation."

On Sunday, a building used by Gazan and foreign journalists was hit by an airstrike, injuring eight people.

Maha before the current crisis

Shahwan says: "I was so sad when I heard the news of the bombing.

"Journalists in Gaza are risking their lives in order to convey the truth.

"A fellow journalist who is only 20 years old had to have his leg amputated."

Shahwan describes how she is making the most of the situation and trying to live as normal an existence as possible.

She says: "We watch TV when electricity is available. We go out into the street with caution to check on neighbours. No one goes to work for fear of another bombardment.

"Adults are not afraid of the bombing because they love death for the sake of the homeland ... Children are afraid of the pictures of other children who have been killed by Israel."

Flattened buildings in Gaza

Maha has been incensed by the deaths of children in the violence. Pictures, far too graphic to publish here, circulate freely round Gaza inflaming the anger directed towards Israel.

She says: "Gaza's children are living in a state of fear and constant crying when they hear the sound of missiles, despite their mother's attempts to calm them down.

"I feel sorry when pro-Palestinian countries send food aid. We do not want food, we want the world to stand beside the Palestinians and help us to achieve our rights and protect our children."

Adele Raemer is a teacher in Kibbutz Nirim, less than two kilometres away from the border with Gaza.

Raemer is part of a clowning group that plans to cheer people up in the air raid shelters

Raemer contacted Shahwan over the weekend in an attempt to open some kind of dialogue.

She says: "I contacted Maha on her facebook and said 'Can I be in contact with you? I think its really important and its not going to end until we can get to know each other."

As a response Shahwan sent Raemer the pictures of dead Gazan children.

Raemer says: "I’m very sorry for the lives of these innocent children but this doesn’t change things, people have to talk. Unless people get to know each other, and let people learn about each other and are willing to talk to each other then this thing is never going to end.

"It’s disrespectful to these children. Its taking them and taking advantage of them for political purposes and its just not respectful.

"I deplore the fact that people are being killed on either side. But where is the value of life in all this? What country in the world would overlook even one rocket shot into their territory?"

The aftermath of a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli home

Raemer is keen to point out that Gaza depends on Israel for aid and utilities: "A little known fact," she says. "Israel provides Gaza with their electricity.

"Israel allows materials and supplies to pass through the border crossings.

"Where is that heard of – in the entire world? Supplying and supporting a population that yearns for your destruction?"

For Raemer, the biggest obstacle for peace is the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures.

She says: "The cultural divide is so vast that it is difficult to understand the other side’s mentality. Maha writes that the adults 'love death for the sake of the homeland'. In our culture, we cherish life. All life.

"Governments are governments. Politicians are politicians. You have to try and sift through what’s going on. What we are told, what the Israelis are told is that before the IDF hit a house they send out flyers, they call up houses, they call up civilians and tell them to GET OUT, we’re bombing. Is this completely wrong?

"The IDF are doing surgical strikes. They’re attacking weapons, they’re attacking Hamas, they’re attacking things that are going to be turned against them. Hamas are attacking civilians.

"We are living in a movie, I feel like I’m living somebody else’s life with all the craziness around me. This is not a situation you get used to. It’s a situation you learn to live with."

Watch Reamer walking her dogs during a missile attack on the video below


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