Gaza City and the Israeli city of Sderot are separated by just a few kilometres. A year ago, even while the people of Gaza were living in severe conditions under Israeli blockade, and Sderot was an ongoing target for rocket attacks coming out of the Gaza Strip, a blog was started by two men, one in each place. Since then they have been documenting their experiences and giving us their perspective on events, including those of the last week.
Life must go in Gaza and Sderot is joint blog written by “Peace Man” in Gaza and “Hope Man” in Sderot. The two men were introduced by Danny Gal, who works for an NGO dedicated to addressing the effects of the Middle East conflict, and they have been blogging since January 2008:
This blog is written by 2 friends. … There is ongoing violence between Israel and Gaza which has intensified greatly since October 2000. Many have been killed and many have been injured. The media coverage on both sides has been extremely biased. Our Blog is written by 2 real people living and communicating on both sides of the border.
In his most recent post, Peace Man says:
Since the operation started in Gaza Strip, more than 300 people killed in two days and two hundred missing and about 160 were in critical condition. Israel destroyed all the police station and all the Government centers. police and civilians and children who [were] killed in this operation.
It is hard to describe what is going on in Gaza , a terrible disaster, where the aircraft do not distinguish between civilians and military and children.
At this moment there are tanks in the around Gaza in preparation for the invasion of the Gaza Strip
I am asking the international community to stop what is going on in Gaza I hope to return to ceasefire and move away from violence
Because violence will bring more violence
I will update you with the situation
Hope Man gives us his perspective:
Many people have left Sderot and I estimate less than 50% of the people remain. Very few people are walking in the streets and no children are seen anywhere.
The war was a great mistake, however it is no wonder that so many people in Israel support it. The ongoing reality of rockets falling in Sderot and other places for 8 years is a terrible reality. Many people of our region have left it for good over the years. Bringing up children in such a reality seems almost abusive and certainly irresponsible.
There is a feeling in most of the Israeli society, that there was no choice but to attack Gaza and stop the rockets once and for all. This is an expected human reaction to the on going situation.
With that said, I personally think it is a terrible mistake that could have been avoided. For 5 months there was an almost complete cease fire. Instead of taking advantage of this long period of quiet to reach a long term agreement, both sides spent their time preparing for this war by planning and arming. No serious efforts were made to start a dialog. The siege by Isreal continued and the smuggling of arms by the Hamas continued. It was a cease fire but only to prepare for the next terrible round which we are experiencing this very moment.
I am very pessimistic at the moment. My fear is that a ground attack is coming and that much more pain is still ahead. Eventually some kind of agreement will be achieved. I hope it will happen soon, I fear it will not.
Hope Man and I talk every day. We support each other and worry for each others well being. I am in contact with others in Gaza and share my situation while hearing of theirs. Much fear and pain on both sides.
What me and others are doing is continuing the dialog with friends in Gaza. We are working to widen and deepen this dialog with more people on both sides. The day after the war we want to start finding ways to work together and create a normality. We are only several kilometers apart and that will never change. It is extremely important to widen our dialog and create trust between those that are willing to talk. To share our stories, fears and hopes.The day after the war we need a new beginning. Let's start planting seeds of humanity and trust now.
Recently the French-German cultural television station ARTE undertook a project called Gaza Sderot in which short videos were shot by Israeli and Palestinian teams on a daily basis for two months, following six people from Gaza and six from Sderot. You can see the results here.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons