Israelis and Palestinians at odds over recent conflict

It is a new chapter in an old story: Arabs and Jews are fighting in the Middle East.

As Palestinians and Israelis intensely negotiate a cease-fire to the 10-day conflict that has killed more than 250 people on the Gaza Strip, tensions remain high among Israelis and Palestinians all over the world.

There are many differing views on everything from the causes to the solutions but there are at least some important agreements.

"What's going on right now in Gaza is absolutely devastating," said Laila Mokhiber, a Palestinian-American in D.C.

"I hate to see all this fighting going on," said Alexa Wertman, also of D.C. and a self-proclaimed "proud Jew" and supporter of Israel.

But that's typically where the agreements end.

"I think the decision making, particularly on the Israeli side has been really irresponsible," said Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Palestine Center in D.C.

"I think Israel is expressing that they want peace and they're looking for a partner in peace," countered Shalom Deitsch, pro-Israeli.

Reuven Azar, Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the United States, puts the blame squarely on Hamas, who rules the Gaza strip.

Azar noted the constant threat of missile attack from Hamas that Israelis live with. "No country should live with that," he said.

"While Israel is investing in systems to protect its citizens, the Iron Dome that saves numerous lives, a system that has been developed by Israel and supported by U.S. Congress and administration, Hamas is using civilians to protect their missiles," said Azar.

It's the Palestinian citizens, said John Sakakini, a Palestinian-America, who are suffering under a blockade restricting their freedoms.

"Its been going on seven years now. People can't travel, people cant leave, the economy is completely shut off," Sakakini said.

"People are living in an open air prison and the psychological conditions they're under is unimaginable," added Mokhiber.

Munayyer stressed that Palestinians simply want basic human rights, something he insisted the U.S. should have an interest in.

"We share a great degree of complicity in what's going on because our tax dollars fund this system of violence that is the Israeli occupation," said Munayyer.

Wertman pointed to Israel as being an example for its neighbors.

She said, "As the only democratic state in the Middle East, I think it's important to be supportive of that and I think it could bring real stability to the region."

A permanent cease-fire between the two sides was nearly brokered by Egypt this week. While Israel agreed to the terms, Hamas did not.

The Israeli and Palestinian story illustrates a history of disagreement that has led to a history of violence. But, they have agreed before. Perhaps they can agree again.

"I just want to see peace in the Middle East," said Israeli supporter, Alexa Wertman.

Similarly, a Palestinian supporter, John Sakakini said, "I very much condemn what they're doing with a military mindset. I don't think military response on either side is going to win any hearts and minds."

"What we want is a ceasefire," said Reuven Azar, an Israeli supporter.

"There is no military solution to this," echoed Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian supporter.

"We want everybody not to shoot and everybody should be safe," added Israeli supporter, Shalom Deitsch.

It appears they can agree.


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