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Gazans prepared for anything despite weight of looming violence

Violence begins again before the expiration of ceasefire talks but many Gazans feel Israel is just 'wasting time and offering nothing'
Palestinian families leave their homes to reach safe zones after the temporary ceasefire ends on 19 August, in Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City (AA)

“I used to be able to analyze the situation, read the silence and what lay behind words and positions, but not anymore,” says Abu Amjad Saleh, 42, in Gaza.

He feels the Cairo talks are a waste of time, "like running behind one’s own shadow."

“Israel is best at wasting time and offering nothing,” says Saleh, frustrated at having had to flee his home and go to relatives when his Rafah neighbourhood was heavily bombed recently. 

Saleh is not alone in his opinion. As a father of 5 children, he feels unable to resist Israel’s war, but finds it even more difficult to just concede to Israeli demands after all the massive loss and destruction in Gaza.

“I have no doubt, Palestinian negotiators are united in Cairo, but I am to hear the international community calling for ceasefire when the blood shed still goes on. It is time for Ban-Ki Moon to be in Cairo,” he says.

Dr. Mukhair Abusada says Israeli Prime minister Netanyahu seems to be in trouble within Israel’s internal political arena and appears to have failed in achieving goals from this war on Gaza.

“Israel is trying to return to a circle of violence situation, clearly shown in statements, from Israeli officials in the past days.”

The comments from Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoun, show a lack of progress, in Gaza.

“If Netanyahu does not understand the message and demands of Gaza through political language in Cairo, we will know how to make him understand,” he says in statement on his Facebook page.

Hamas is ready to deal with all potential developments and possibilities, but says Israel’s intransigence would be to blame for any failure in talks to create a long-lasting ceasefire.

Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Al-Batsh, says from Cairo, that the Palestinian delegation is willing to sign a ceasefire deal, but not at any cost. “Any deal should meet the people’s aspirations, hopes, pain and steadfastness.”

However, in statements issued by Islamic Jihad there seems to be no intention in extending the military confrontation.  

Before the expiration of the ceasefire, several Israeli F16 airstrikes were carried out on east Gaza City, Khan Yunis, and the north Gaza Strip. Israel states these were retaliatory strikes after rockets were fired into Israel form Gaza.

But political analysts say that Palestinian factions usually announce the firing of rockets from Gaza, and no factions have taken responsibility for such rocket attacks.

“Israel has an interest in rockets coming from Gaza, in order to withdraw its negotiators from Cairo without results, before the end of the day,” says Abusada.

Israeli drones continue flying over Gaza despite the ceasefire, and the occasional Israeli F16 flies overhead at low altitude, intimidating the Gazan people.

Meanwhile, Gazans are receiving conflicting reports from Cairo that do not help understand the ongoing events.

Mahmoud Aldermli, 49, father of 11, is staying at a UN school shelter and says: “The resistance should continue as long as it can. It’s better that we die in dignity than live in humiliation.”

For Aldermli, waiting for the results of negotiations is the worst type of insult: “I have the patience to wait in the miserable conditions we live in, but in the end we want to see those results, so that we can live in dignity,” he says.

The past airstrikes are likely to end peace talks as Israeli officials say truce talks between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo have collapsed. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ya'alon have recalled Israeli envoys from Cairo.

Earlier on, Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Jamal Shoubaki, said Israelis proposed arrangements for "not (fully) removing the blockade but easing it." Meanwhile, Palestinian negotiators say they want an end to the blockade forever.

As Saleh hears more Israeli airstrikes hitting nearby he says: “This is a clear Israeli message, that if you don’t accept what we offer in Cairo, we continue our airstrikes.”

Palestinian factions, including Hamas, say none of them have fired on Israel and they are committed to a 24-hour ceasefire.

Hamas accuses Israel of 'foot-dragging' and Sami Abu Zuhri says this is a well-known Israeli policy causing the “abortion of ceasefire talks.”

Palestinian Minister of Housing - Mofeed Al Hassayneh - estimates that Gaza needs $6-8 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip. 20,000 homes have been demolished completely and rendered inhabitable. 40,0000 other homes are partially destroyed, and 2.5 million tons of rubble of demolished homes are estimated to be cleared away.