Cross-posted from Gush Shalom
The people of Gaza are literally hostages in an open air prison with no escape.
(image by YouTube)
Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course.
There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect.
And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.
When the two plans meet, everything goes wrong. Both plans break down. You don't know what's going to happen. How to go on. You do things you have not planned for. And when you have had enough of it and want to get out, you don't know how. It's so much more difficult to end a war than to start a war, especially when both sides need to declare victory.
That's where we are now.
HOW DID it all start? Depends where you want to begin.
Like everywhere else, every event in Gaza is a reaction to another event. You do something because the other side did something. Which they did because you did something. One can unravel this until the beginning of history. Or at least until Samson the Hero.
Samson, it will be remembered, was captured by the Philistines, blinded and brought to Gaza. There he committed suicide by bringing the temple down on himself and all the leaders and people, crying out: "Let my soul die with the Philistines!" (Judges 16:30)
If that's too remote, let's start with the beginning of the present occupation, 1967.
(There was a forgotten occupation before that. When Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of Sinai in the course of the 1956 Suez war, David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the "Third Israeli Kingdom," only to announce in a broken voice, a few dates later, that he had promised President Dwight Eisenhower to withdraw from the entire Sinai Peninsula. Some Israeli parties urged him to keep at least the Gaza Strip, but he refused. He did not want to have hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel.)
A friend of mine reminded me of an article I had written less than two years after the Six Day War, during which we occupied Gaza again. I had just found out that two Arab road-construction workers, one from the West Bank and one from the Gaza Strip, doing exactly the same job, were paid different wages. The Gaza man was paid much less.
Being a member of the Knesset, I made inquiries. A high-level official explained to me that this was a matter of policy. The purpose was to cause the Arabs to leave Gaza and settle in the West Bank (or elsewhere), in order to disperse the 400,000 Arabs then living in the Strip, mostly refugees from Israel. Obviously this did not go so very well -- now there are about 1.80 million there.
Then, in February 1969, I warned: "(If we go on) we shall be faced with a terrible choice -- to suffer from a wave of terrorism that will cover the entire country, or to engage in acts of revenge and oppression so brutal that they will corrupt our souls and cause the whole world to condemn us."
I mention this not (only) to blow my own horn, but to show that any reasonable person could have foreseen what was going to happen.
IT TOOK a long time for Gaza to reach this point.