From Gaza to Obama
On January 20th Barack Obama takes office as the 44th president of the United States, amidst turmoil in the Middle East following Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has left more than 1,200 Palestinians dead.
Al Jazeera spoke to three Palestinians living in Gaza about their experiences during the Gaza offensive, how their life has been affected and what the new US president should do to bring about peace.
Mohammed al-Sharif, Gaza City, works for Palestinian NGO
It has been horrifying living in Gaza for the last couple of weeks.
White phosphorous bombs have been dropped close to our house. You name it – everything you have seen on the TV we went through.
Two weeks ago, we removed the panes of glass from our windows as we were scared it would shatter in our faces.
We have been sleeping in one corner of the house away from the windows and trying to put our six-month-old daughter between us to keep her safe.
We have only left the house to go to the supermarket to buy basic necessities.
We have spent a lot of time on the telephone calling friends to see if they are still OK.
You only get electricity for two hours a day and after a while you feel like you are very isolated.
Let’s hope the new president will take more time to spend more time to understand the reality of the Israel-Arab struggle.
He should not take only the Israeli point of view. he has to understand you cannot punish the Palestinian people for making a choice. I am not pro-Hamas, but Hamas won the election, a legal election.
He is isolating the people who chose them. This is democracy but they do not want to accept that, because it is against Israeli interests.
You can’t change the people’s will by dropping bombs on them.
President Obama will do great things for the American people and I really believe in his capabilities to lead the US, but on this issue, it’s not going to change.
His first hiring was a Zionist and you can see how this will go.
Abderrahman Shaath, Gaza City, credit administrator
The worst thing about this was not knowing when the Israeli operation could come to you – your house, your family.
We are fortunate – we have a generator so we have been able to have power for about five hours a day.
I was going out a lot – if you stay at home you get depressed and I have tried to keep my lifestyle as normal as possible.
Every morning I got up and go to work – even though the office is closed and there is no-one there to see what is happening.
There’s no point staying in bed and hiding under the blankets because there is no place that was safe.
A mosque about 100 metres from our house was bombed and I had been there only three or four hours before.
George Bush was the worst thing that could have happened to the US over the last eight years.
If you are under occupation, you have the right to resist.
What Obama has to realise that, whether the US likes it or not, Hamas is in charge in Gaza.
He needs to understand that the Palestinian people have the right to exist and that we have the right to move around and to cross borders.
If we don’t get those rights then there will be resistance – it’s simple.
Rami Almeghrahi, Megahzi refugee camp, journalist
This was the most intensive bombardment carried out by Israel in the last few years.
Life had become paralysed here and people are staying in their neighbourhoods and in their houses, only going out for emergencies.
Some close relatives from another part of Gaza have been staying with me for the last 15 days, as a house close to them was targeted by Israeli warplanes.
Every week I take my children and drive them around to give them some fresh air but this week when they were in the car they wanted to see the sites that had been bombed.
The US has been involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but the failure of the US to enforce a decisive solution has helped opponents of the peace process such as the Hamas party.
Mr Obama needs to address the root causes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reopen negotiations in a way that is based on international legitimacy and find a resolution – whether it is one or two states – so that the conflict can end once and for all.
My message to Obama is that he should put more emphasis on those who are suffering in the conflict on both sides, but the Palestinians are suffering more than the Israelis.