Ali Waked
June 18, 2008 - 4:49pm,7340,L-3557321,00.html

Weary, and wary - Gaza's residents are counting the hours until the ceasefire between Israel and the armed groups in the Strip comes into effect (6:00 am on Thursday). The overall feeling in the streets is of satisfaction mixed with disbelief that the truce will last. After all, the region has known its share of failed truces.

"The people here are very happy. Some even allowed themselves to go out in the city last night," Ahmad al-Najar, a resident of the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, told Ynet.

"There's this feeling of something new in the air, but there is always that fear, that something will go wrong and the airstrikes and assassinations will start up again," he added.

More so than many other aspects of the ceasefire, Palestinians are chiefly await the reopening of the border crossings, particularly Rafah.

"If Israel doesn't open the crossings and let people out to work in Israel, nothing will change," said Najar. The hundreds of university students in Gaza are also waiting to be allowed back to school.

Gaza residents are also hoping for some relief in terms of fuel availability: Most here have been using UNRWA issued coupons to buy food, but recently they have begun using them for gas as well.

Ahmed al-Asfur, a Gaza taxi driver, told Ynet that the Strip's cabbies get weekly coupons, allowing them to buy no more than five gallons of petrol a week.

"The 'official' taxi drivers can buy up to 10 gallons of gas a week, but that's not enough either… We hope one of the things that will happen is that we get some more fuel, so we can support our families," he said.

Hamas, he added, has used the need for gas coupons to make all the drivers renew their driving and vehicle licenses: "If you don't renew your license, you can't get any coupons, and without coupons you can't get gas… I hope we will be able to afford gas now. I hope the truce lasts. We deserve a few weeks of normal life."


Those in West Bank are also following the developments.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Wednesday that "there are 1.5 million people living in horrible conditions in Gaza. I hope the ceasefire will ease their situation."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017