Gazans hope for peace, prosperity in 2022 after Israel's May offensive
Residents of the besieged Gaza Strip have told The New Arab of their hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous year after 2021 was marred by death and destruction at the hands of Israel.
An Israeli bombing campaign on Gaza in May killed more than 250 Palestinians and injured thousands. Tens of thousands of homes and much of Gaza's basic infrastructure were destroyed. Palestinian armed factions in Gaza fired thousands of rockets at Israel, killing 13 Israelis.
Israel says Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, is a terror organisation. Though Israel has conducted large-scale military operations on Gaza before, locals say May's round of violence was the most intense they had seen since 2014.
For several months, Palestinian factions and Israel have been involved in indirect peace negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
Israel has since made small concessions, allowing entry to building materials needed to reconstruct some of Gaza, for the first time in years. It has also agreed to allow thousands of Palestinians to work inside its cities, allowing them to earn money that they can spend to boost Gaza's local economy.
Gaza City resident Mohammed Shamali was recently granted permission to work in Israel. He said he eventually would have his own job that would help him keep his eight-member family afloat after years of suffering.
"We have tired from the ongoing conflict between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli army, which does not differentiate between the militants and civilians," Shamali said.
"I hope to start the new year with happiness as I can work and gain money to build my sons' future."
Shaimaa Tayseer, a mother of four living in Gaza's Al-Nuseirat refugee camp, told The New Arab that she hoped to live in peace and security - a far cry from what she experienced in May.
The 29-year-old said the Israeli bombardment left her homeless for two months.
"It was not easy for my family... we all felt that we were not living in security," she said.
A grant from Qatar paid for the reconstruction of her home, she said; she and her family will move back into the house in the next few weeks.
"I hope to live in it without fear of another war against us."
She said she hoped next year would bring the end of Israel's blockade on Gaza, which was imposed almost 15 years ago after Hamas came to power.
Both Shamali and Tayseer urged Egypt and Qatar to continue their mediation efforts.