Return to Gaza

Cast your mind back six months….to late December. That’s when Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters began their fierce air assault on the Gaza Strip. Israel’s stated aim was to stop Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel, and to – as it said – ‘change realities on the ground.’ The war lasted three weeks, and led to the deaths of more than a thousand Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

But what’s happened in the months since the conflict ended? How has it affected the people of Gaza? How much reconstruction has taken place? And has Israel achieved its war aims?

On Thursday, our Middle East correspondent Paul Wood returns to Gaza for Newshour. He’ll try and answer these questions, and he’ll also speak to Hamas and the Israeli government to see what lessons they’ve learned from the Gaza war and the uneasy peace that followed. He’ll also try to answer any questions you might have about life in Gaza today – so fire away.. and join us on Newshour at 1200 and 1430 GMT on Thursday.

52 Responses to “Return to Gaza”

  1. 1 steve
    June 24, 2009 at 14:32

    Given many more people died in Sri Lanka, more recently, will you focus on that, or single out Israel like usual?

    God knows how many people died in Darfur, but lets single out Israel.

    How many in the latest Iraq suicide bombing? Let’s single out Israel.

  2. June 24, 2009 at 15:01

    Hi Steve,

    The ongoing conflict in the middle-east is a crucial story and one we’ve given little airtime to recently – that’s the reason we’re revisiting Gaza. We cover each story on its own merits — so each of those conflicts you mention is and will continue to be covered extensively on the World Service.

    Piers – Newshour output editor

    • 3 dorit
      June 25, 2009 at 17:43

      it seems Arabs are bent at pointing the finger at Israel as the cause to all their ails.There are no Jews left in Iraq, few jews left in Iran , Afganistan and Pakistan, why are these countries so violent against their own women and children? Even in Israel proper, complete Arab towns that hold Israeli citinzenship, Violence of Arab against Arab in the name of “revenge” is out of proportion! but course, its the fault of Israel! N’est Pa?
      Quit yammering! look in the mirroir! if you dont, you deserve the dictators you get!!!

  3. June 24, 2009 at 15:14

    Salaam Newshour, Piers, and Paul Wood,
    My question to Paul Wood is : Are there any rockets fired from Gaza on Sderot these days i.e. after the Israeli aggression on Gaza and its people ?! If yes then can we confirm by any means that Hamas is responsible for these rocket attacks ?! As a med student, I’d be interested in particular to hear about the conditions of healthcare in the Gaza strip, are there enough medical personnels, medications and medical supplies ?! How are Gazan patients with serious illnesses like Cancer, Diabetes, and heart disease coping under such xtremely difficult circumstances ?! Are those disabled due to war getting proper care and supplies ?! How are Gazan doctors coping ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  4. 5 steve
    June 24, 2009 at 15:30

    Meanwhile, in the west bank, where they don’t try to kill Israelis, Palestinians consider Plasma TVs a necessity and have luxury shopping malls.


    Seems, that when they don’t try to kill Israelis, they live better lives.

  5. 9 Tom K in Mpls
    June 24, 2009 at 15:57

    This is an empty topic. Until one or both sides quit spouting ‘it is Gods will! We are the chosen!’, it will never end. Let’s just take everyone with that view, arm them with small arms and put them in a controlled area. When the shooting stops we can ask them who was right.

    In other words, they deserve each other.

  6. June 24, 2009 at 16:35

    Salaam. The West Bank is an OCCUPIED piece of land according to the international law, and if any of our friends here is suggesting that the presence of Israeli colonies and fanatic and violent Jewish settlers there (forget what has happened in Al Khalil recently ?!) along with hundreds of Israeli military check points and strict movement restrictions and above all Israeli occupation soldiers with all of their oppressive procedures should make the lives of West Bankers better then I do suggest that that friend should revise his/her information well. To that friend I’d say : After the US led invasion of my Iraq most Iraqis got modern style cell phones, plasma TV screens, satellite dishes, laptops, ect., ect., but did all of that make our lives any better ?! Until very recently we were living hell on earth if anyone can remember. And in my district Al Karradah there’re more than three molls, yet Karradis suffered the most since 2003 and till now. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  7. 11 steve
    June 24, 2009 at 17:40

    @ Lubna

    Were their lives any better under occupation by Egypt and Jordan from 1948-1967?

    The reason why they are occupied today by Israel is becaucse Israel won a war it didn’t start. It offered to return all the territories IMMEDIATELY, but the arabs at Khartoum said “no negotations, no recognition, and no peace with Israel”. Should Israel have returned the land given those terms? So that’s why there are settlers now.

    I’d be a bit more concerned what’s going on in your country:


    Saturday, 70 people were blown up, on Monday, 29 people were blown up.

    Does focusing on Israel and not looking inward going to somehow improve the situation in Iraq, or any other country where they have serious problems but ignore them and focus on Israel? Israel is not going anywhere. When the arabs stop wishing it away, then there will be peace.

  8. 12 Ann
    June 24, 2009 at 17:56

    I would like to ask how many Muslim Palestinians are still living without adequate housing, sanitation, medical care, education, physical security and basic nutrition. And I’d like to ask how many Jewish Israeli’s are in the same situation.

  9. 13 John LaGrua/New York
    June 24, 2009 at 18:07

    Two highly respected Isreali historians Morris , Pappe have chroncled the brutal reppression of the Palestinians by Isreal over 60 years Gaza is just the most recent of the war crimes by a state that was established by terrorist in criminal gangs. Hagganah,Stern ,Irgun..No white wash can cover the thousands of dead,injured and millions displaced.Isreal goes unpunished by virtue of US misplaced and shameful support.The moral corruption of what have been a reasonable enterprise encompassing all the inhabitants of Palestine will ultimately be the undoing of Isreal. The current repression of the Iranian opposition may well inspire renewed reistance to Isreali occupation by the Palestinians.Repressive regimes collapse as a result of the stress of internal contradictions.Lincoln said it well: “A nation divided in itself cannot stand.”Unfortunately, the suffering of the oppressed goes on ,generations of Palestinians condemed to live in misery.until the US ends it’s criminal subsidy of Isreal and redeems it’s sacred honor!

    • June 24, 2009 at 18:39

      Lubna and Ann, thanks for your questions – I hope we’ll have time to put them to Paul and our other correspondents tomorrow. Lubna – we will indeed be hearing from Sderot.

      Steve and John, if you’ve any questions or comments to make on the state of Gaza today, then please post them. But your comments up to now are taking us down a different path, so let’s try not to get caught up in those arguments again.

      Piers – Newshour

  10. 15 Roberto
    June 24, 2009 at 18:39

    RE “” How much reconstruction has taken place? “”

    —————— More like how many billions have been sunk into this sewer.

    People in Gaza have had more money thrown at them than any other culture. Today’s reconstruction is tomorrows debris of destruction.

    Since Hamas is in charge of the latest installment of anarchy in Gaza, ask them when they will produce a reputable government and education so that the honest citizens of Gaza have a chance to produce a marketable product or service and pursue peace and happiness in their lives?

    I expect the usual propaganda about the mean ol’ Israelis this and that. Israel gave them a crown jewel on the Mediterranean that they promptly turned it into a sewer through suicidal attacks against Israel.

  11. 16 steve
    June 24, 2009 at 18:42

    @ Piers

    Can you compare the lives of Palestinians in Gaza vs. the West Bank and why there might be differences in the quality of life?

  12. June 24, 2009 at 18:48

    Thanks a million Steve for your concern about my Iraq, I do really appreciate it mate, but let me say this to you and to all of our other friends : We Iraqis are human beings who always get through “it” no matter what “it” really is, and history proves my point right eh ?! And did Egyptians and Jordanians kick Gazans, West Bankers, and citizens of East Jerusalem out of their homes and lands, turned them into refugees, implanted by force Egyptian and Jordanian settlers instead of them, placed hundreds of military check points and strict movement restrictions on them ?! Two wrongs doesn’t make any of them any right eh ?! The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is wrong and illegal, not only according to me but also according to the international law and the UN resolutions. Steve, my rage isn’t all directed at the followers of any religion, it’s only directed at OCCUPIERS. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  13. June 24, 2009 at 18:57

    Thanks a million Piers, and so sorry if I got a little out of the line, but I just felt that I had to respond to some of the comments by made by our friends. I guess that the passion about Palestine circulates in our blood we Middle Easterns, so apologies again Piers. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  14. 19 patti in cape coral
    June 24, 2009 at 19:27

    Addressing the question, has Israel achieved its war aims, what were its war aims? From what I hear on the news, all of the problems are because of the rockets launched from Palestine, so one aim was to stop this. Has it stopped? Also, wasn’t one of the obstacles to the Palestinians receiving humanitarian care, food, medical supplies, etc., was that the Israelis and Egypt were not letting much get through? Has this changed as well?

  15. 20 steve
    June 24, 2009 at 20:23

    @ Lubna, yes by attacking Israel in 1948, the arabs caused the entire mess. Israelis didn’t stick jewish refugees from the muslim world (800,000) into refugees like the arab states did. Israel took them in and they became citizens. No country other than Jordan has done that for Palestinians.

    If you problem is with “occupiers” then do you have a problem with protestants in Northern Ireland? British in the Falklands? British presence in the Pitcairn Islands, any French overseas possession? Or is your concern with occupation restricted only to Israel?

  16. 21 globalcomedy
    June 25, 2009 at 01:46

    What do many Palestinians think of Obama?

  17. 22 Meir Avrahami - Israel
    June 25, 2009 at 10:58

    Hopefully the ferocity of Israeli action means it will be quite a while till the next bout – which as at the time BBC reporting suggested is inevitable. Perhaps just perhaps with enough time it can be avoided altogether.

    The situation in West Bank shows signs for cautious optimism both in terms of an economy building up for the Palestinians & their showing ability to handle security.

  18. June 25, 2009 at 11:04

    Hi This is Lucy from Newshour. I’m working with Piers on today’s programme. It’s great that you’re getting so involved in the subject, but we’ve noticed that the last few comments are straying a bit too far back into history. We’ve also noticed that it’s getting a bit personal and that’s not really what the blog is for. We don’t have time to go in to that today, but are still interested in knowing what you’d like to hear from Paul Wood in Gaza in the show. We’re looking at reconstruction and daily life for Palestinians in Gaza now. We’re on air in a couple of hours, so please keep your comments short and focused and we’ll try to get them through to Paul.

  19. 24 Meir Avrahami - Israel
    June 25, 2009 at 11:07

    Sala’am Lubna

    “The West Bank is an OCCUPIED piece of land according to the international law” & the Gaza Strip which is our subject is NOT.
    Not an Israel soldier on this piece of Palestinian soil – except Gilad Shalit who is a Hamas prisoner captured exactly 3 years ago from what is Israel by international law.
    If only those in Gaza would concern themselves with simply building their own nation & not destroying that of others.

  20. 25 Meir Avrahami - Israel
    June 25, 2009 at 11:13

    Just tell Paul to take the greatest of care – we don’t want another hostage situation like Alan Johnston

  21. 26 Meir Avrahami - Israel
    June 25, 2009 at 13:11

    To Ann who wrote “…how many Muslim Palestinians are still living without adequate housing, sanitation, medical care, education, physical security and basic nutrition. And I’d like to ask how many Jewish Israeli’s are in the same situation”

    None Ann – they all had to leave Gaza back in Aug 2005

    Odd isn’t it where Israel withdrew completely the situation became explosive yet where Israel partially withdrew as in the West Bank the lot of the Palestinians is better

  22. 27 patti in cape coral
    June 25, 2009 at 13:24

    I’m not sure that this question is on topic or not, but I would like to ask if the war has had the effect of distancing the people from Hamas, if they possibly blame Hamas for their trouble,or has it had the effect of more people joining Hamas?

  23. June 25, 2009 at 13:28

    Salaam Paul Wood. Can you give us a sense of what West Bankers and citizens of East Jerusalem in general think of the continued Israeli occupation and the presence of Jewish settlements in their territories ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  24. June 25, 2009 at 13:55

    Also I’d love to hear from ordinary Gazans, where their day to-day lives before the Israeli what so called withdrawal from the Gaza strip in 2005 (b/c even after the withdrawal Israel is still till now in total control of the Gaza strip by land, air, and sea, strangulating the whole city completely and going in and out of it whenever it pleases) good and pink as some are trying to imply ?! Can they describe their daily lives to us under the Israeli occupation ?!

  25. 30 Jim Newman
    June 25, 2009 at 14:02

    Hello again WHYS and Newshour.
    Well done. As predicted you have put your courage in your pocket and avoided the real issue.

  26. June 25, 2009 at 14:31

    This series of incidents is part and parcel of the militarization of th U.S. economy. The bombardment of Gaza was done with American weaponry, much of them highly advanced. Israeli behavior would have been much different if it had needed to be done on their own dime. Human life has never been cheaper. In the meantime American life is lower in quality than many ‘advanced’ countries. The economy is in the doldrums, but the Pentagon is obscenely flush with cash. It is the elephant in the room; by analogy, our civilian government could be likened to the six blind men.

  27. 32 MK
    June 25, 2009 at 14:44

    Why does not the world support Israelis when someone bombs a kindergarden?
    The Basij in Iran started with kids being “sacrificed” to clear mines for older soldiers. If you build kindergardens in the line of fire or you don’t take your kids further away from conflict and move closer instead- you are sacrificing your kids as well. Your interviewee wants us to applaud the sacrifice of de facto child-soldiers?

  28. June 25, 2009 at 14:46

    The gentleman from Sderot is comparing psychological trauma to the actual death of a loved one ???! I say to that gentleman, be related to one of the 70 innocent civilians who were murdered in Baghdad yesterday and you’ll know for sure that nothing can be compared to the actual death of a loved one, even psychological trauma, and speaking of psychological trauma, why not speaking about the psychological traumas innocent Gazan civilians have been suffering from ?! It’s so true that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip and its people was really “an eye for an eyelash”.

  29. June 25, 2009 at 14:53

    Also today on Outlook on the BBC WS Radio I heard a very interesting story about an Israeli charity that’s giving cameras to Palestinian citizens inorder to film human rights violations committed by Israeli settlers and Israeli occupation soldiers against innocent Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Such a pink life under the Israeli occupation eh ?! 🙂

  30. 35 Steve in Boston
    June 25, 2009 at 15:06

    I’ll try once again to get my pro-Israel opinion posted, despite it’s rejection yesterday and email exchange with Piers Scholfield.

    I listened to the piece this morning inasmuch as it was broadcast by local station WBUR.

    Just as I suspected, in my opinion it was a biased attempt to take the spotlight off the atrocities being committed in Iran, and try to drag Israel into the same mud as the Ayatollahs. By focusing narrowly on the casualties of war–a war provoked by Hamas–the BBC tells only half the story.

    Hamas uses hospitals, schools, mosques and other civilian sites for storing weapons and launching attacks. They cynically know that news outlets like the BBC will focus on the resulting civilian casualties, resulting in invaluable free publicity and propaganda. Any Palestinians who speak out against Hamas are quickly silenced.

    By engaging in this sort of one-sided journalism, the BBC and other news outlets are encouraging Hamas to continue its practice of sacrificing civilians for the “greater good” of their cause. A look in the mirror by the reporters of today’s piece will reveal another guilty party.

    The story also contained one unchallenged falsehood–that Gaza is occupied. It is not occupied, it is blockaded, and that is Israel’s right. When Hamas’ war against Israel ceases, so will the blockade.

  31. 36 patti in cape coral
    June 25, 2009 at 15:31

    I’m a little disappointed, I didn’t get a real answer to my question, just basically, some blame the Israelis, some blame Hamas, but they blame Israel first. It seems with the middle east, there is no way to get a neutral, unbiased answer, because they are always looking out of their own eyes. It reminds me when my children were little and would start fighting with each other, and I could just tell them to knock it off, that they are family and are not allowed to fight. Alas, I wish it could be so easy to resolve this.

    • 37 Tom K in Mpls
      June 25, 2009 at 17:37

      So patti, maybe you are starting to see the sense in my post? What else do you do when there is no answer?

      • 38 patti in cape coral
        June 28, 2009 at 17:41

        @ Tom – I’m afraid I do see your point. I have heard a few voices in the fray that truly want peace, on both sides, but I think they are too few to make a difference.

  32. 39 audrey
    June 25, 2009 at 15:38

    What do you see as the real issue, Jim?

  33. 40 Elias
    June 25, 2009 at 17:56

    Israel has had rocket attacks for several years from Gaza so that they had no choice to go to war in order to stop the attacks which has been stopped at great cost in lives. Any sovereign country would do the same. There cannot be any peace untill the Palestinian Authority together with Hamas are united and accept and recognise Israel as a sovereign state and refrain from trying to destroy the state. How can Israel grant statehood to the Palestinians that include Hamas who continue not to recognise Israel and instead commit terrorists acts against the people of Israel.
    Paul Wood should ask Hamas if they intend to continue their terrorist activities against Israel, if the answer is yes, then there cannot be any statehood for them in the future. Its as simple as that.

  34. 41 Denise in Chicago
    June 25, 2009 at 18:00

    I can’t even fathom that Israel and the palestinians will ever achieve sustained harmony. Their hatred for each other is greater than their desire for peace.

  35. 42 Jim Newman
    June 25, 2009 at 22:05

    Hello again
    And hello Elias. You will probably never get to read this but here goes. The rocket attacks are the sign that the Palestinians will never accept that their homeland be squatted by zionists.
    How can the zionist squatters claim to have a sovereign state in someone elses country?
    It’s not for the zionist squatters to grant statehood to the Palestinians. The only decent thing they can do is get out of Palestine.
    However Elias, from what you write I can’t tell whether you are a squatter or not but your ingenuousness leads me to believe that you are not a zionist. When I use the term zionist squatter I’m refering to the zionist regime.
    I have an idea that I think could be a road map to peace between Arabs and Jews.
    Palestine should revert to being Palestine and the squatters should have the choice of staying on as Palestinians or leaving.
    A Nurenburg type court should be set up to try the zionist criminals so that Palestine could get off to a new start where justice is seen to be done.
    There should be agencies of Arabs and Jews of good will to help bring the two together in peace. Don’t laugh. These people do exist, they have only been drowned out by propaganda on the one side and suffering on the other.
    One person who springs to mind is Daniel Barenbaüm.
    Well that is just a rough sketch of how I see peace between the two brother races.


  36. 43 dorit
    June 25, 2009 at 22:18

    If all Israelies would tomorrow morning leave Israel in unisom, how long do you think would it take for assorted palestinians to destroy this little flower in the middle east? my bet is on 30 minuites! even if my brother wins(he bets 3 days) the facts are that “occupation” screams are just a cover-up for the 60 years old”give me, give me, give me “arab story! if the monies arabs got through Unicef and assorted charities wouldn’t have been siphoned and stolen by corrupt arab leaders, there would be money enough to build a villa for every citisen in the area.

  37. 44 Roy Fuchs
    June 25, 2009 at 22:46

    In re the Gaza story this AM – While we have sympathy at the personal level for the Palestinians’ losses of life and property, Palestinians generally and Hamas particularly, in the guise of “use any means,” seem to have no problem using homicide bombers in Israel, nor do they flinch at shooting rockets at Israelis. But when Israel strikes back they point out the “injustice.”

    Unfortunately, if peace is a goal, the Palestinians are where they are because they have been victims of the worst possible leadership. They continue to suffer from over 60 years of proactive misrule. Unfortunately, also, Israel has been victimized by the same third rate “leadership.”

    Roy Fuchs
    Trumbull, CT

    • 45 Meir Avrahami - Israel
      June 26, 2009 at 16:56

      Jim Newman states “A Nurenburg type court should be set up to try the zionist criminals so that Palestine could get off to a new start where justice is seen to be done.”

      The naked face of anti-Zionism – never to be confused with the other thing eh?

      Nurenburg – an attempt to seek justice for an almost unimaginable scale of criminal behavior – crime composed of millions of murders, wrongful imprisonments, and tortures, of rape, theft, and destruction

      Yet there are those who can insinuate Israeli action is worthy of such a comparison

      Waky waky BBC & waky waky everyone else out there

      • 46 Jim Newman
        June 29, 2009 at 17:47

        Hello again
        And hello Meir. You shouldn’t complain too much about not having enough protection from the BBC Because my reply to you has been censored as expected thus protecting you from any vestige of truth that may have been aimed your way.
        But of course, if you have the courage, you could insist that I have my say.

  38. 47 steve
    June 26, 2009 at 16:52

    Notice how the UN/Vatican/etc are not condemning Iran despite voting irregularities and the killing of protesters? Not a single world, whereas if an Israeli is even born the UN condemns Israel?

  39. 48 Jeff in Boston
    June 26, 2009 at 21:51

    It’s nice that Steve, Elias, dorit, etc. all post their pro-Zionist propaganda, and no one at BBC takes the trouble to remind them that we are supposed to be asking questions.

    Since they are not able to do so, I’ll supply some actual questions that should be answered about Israel’s seige on Gaza:

    1. For a time Israel was blocking everything and everyone from the border – both journalists trying to observe the Israeli war-crimes and aid workers trying to alleviate the Palestinian suffering. But now Israel appears to be allowing some limited aid to be delivered. So what is Israel allowing to pass across the border now, and what are they blocking? Is the UN allowed to bring anything they believe is necessary, or is Israel still blocking UN aid – if so what items?

    2. Israel bombed several UN facilities during the war. Has the UN been able to rebuild these facilities or are they still in ruins?

    3. Is the UN the only aid agency Israel allows to cross the border or are others allowed? Is ANY aid agency allowed, or only a small list of Zionist-approved ones? What restrictions are placed on those allowed in?

    4. Israel (which still claims to be the “only Democracy in the Middle East” – yeah, Right) also blocked all journalists from observing while it was dropping its US-made bombs on Palestinian civilians. But what journalists is Israel now allowing in – was it difficult for BBC to get clearance from Israel to visit Gaza? Is ANY journalist allowed to cross or only those from a Zionist-approved list?

    5. Is Israel allowing anyone other than journalists and aid workers allowed to cross the border? Are any Palestinians allowed to cross, or are they still bottled up in the concentration camp Israel has been holding them in for the past two years.

    • 49 Jim Newman
      June 29, 2009 at 11:24

      Hello again
      And hello Jeff. Your right about the question and my question was censored. Anyway the time for asking questions is past and the whole thing has developed into a debate about zionism which I would welcome if I were’nt subject to such intense censorship.

  40. June 29, 2009 at 04:33

    Shoddy journalsim and petty comments.

  41. 51 jo
    June 29, 2009 at 07:02

    After the people in Africa, the Palestinians are the worst affected by suffereings in life due to war, famine, destruction and intergroup rivalry.It is quiet inhuman on our part that we ignore or pretend to be like that as far as their sufferings are concerned.The international welfare agencies are to revamp the relief plan so that their agony is alleviated in small measure at least.

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