The view from the Gaza strip

By Ben Lynfield, June 19, 2008

“Everyone is waiting for the ceasefire because our lives are terrible.”

With those words, Raed al-Atamneh, a taxi-driver in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, summed up the mood in advance of the Egyptian-brokered truce.

“People expect goods to come into Gaza now. I hope this agreement will stop the shooting, stop the dying. People want to feel safe and have a good life, but the power is in Israeli hands, not Palestinian hands,” Mr al-Atamneh added.

More than 400 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in Gaza and southern Israel since Hamas seized control of the Strip a year ago. As tens of thousands of Israelis endured frequent rocket fire, Gaza’s population reeled from IDF operations and a blockade that caused shortages of fuel and basic goods. The strictures are now to be eased.

Naji Shurab, a political scientist at Gaza City’s al-Azhar University, cautioned that there are serious doubts over how long the truce will last.

“There is a temporary interest of both Israel and Hamas for this ceasefire, but there are many factors that could lead to its collapse. It is an unwritten agreement, Egypt doesn’t have the power to back it up. Israel will not let Hamas develop its infrastructure and tools. Also, if Israel assassinates a Palestinian leader in the West Bank, what will be the response of the resistance here in Gaza?

“I hope this ceasefire will last for its full six months and be renewed on a strong basis, but this depends on there being a political vision, especially for the Palestinians. If the Palestinians are offered a real vision of building a state and of the negotiating process leading to a positive outcome, the public will be more able to support the truce and relations with Israel,” Mr Shurab said.

Last updated: 9:24am, June 19 2008