Opinion

They're Right. If Palestinians in Gaza Don't Shoot, No One Listens

They are the last fighters against the Israeli occupation. While the occupied West Bank behaves like it's given up, Gaza is not giving up

A Palestinian female protester holds stones during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, on May 25, 2018.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

We have to say it simply and honestly: They’re right. They have no choice but to fight for their freedom with their bodies, their property, their weapons and their blood. They have no choice, except for the Qassam and the mortar. There is no way open to them except for violence or surrender. They have no way of breaching the fences that pen them in without using force, and their force is primitive and pathetic, almost touching.

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A people that is fighting for its freedom with kites, tunnels, mirrors, tires, scissors, incendiary devices, mortar shells and Qassam rockets, against one of the most sophisticated war machines in the world, is a people without hope. But the only way they can change their situation is with their pathetic weapons.

When they’re quiet, Israel and the world take no interest in their fate. Only the Qassam restores awareness of their disaster. When do we hear about Gaza in Israel? Only when Gaza is shooting. That’s why they have no choice but to shoot. That’s why their shooting is justified, even if it criminally harms innocent civilians, instills fear and terror in the residents of the south and is intolerable to Israel, and rightly so.

They have no weapons that are more precise, and therefore it’s also impossible to blame them for harming civilians: Most of their mortars fall in open areas, although that is not their intention either. It’s hard to blame them for hitting an empty kindergarten: They would certainly prefer precise weapons that aim at military targets, like those that Israel has, which incidentally harm far more children.

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It’s clear that their violence is cruel, like any violence. But what choice do they have? Every hesitant attempt they make to take a different path – a truce, a change in leadership or in their political positions – immediately encounters automatic Israeli dismissal and rejection. Israel believes them only when they shoot. After all, there’s a clear control group: the West Bank. There’s no Hamas there and no Qassam, there are barely any vestiges of terror, and what good did that do Mahmoud Abbas and his people?

They’re right, because after all the diversions and deceptions and lies of Israeli propaganda, nothing can blur the fact that they have been thrown into a huge cage for the rest of their lives. An unbelievable siege, 11 years without respite, which is the greatest war crime in this arena. No propaganda can conceal their identity – their past, their present and their future. Most of them live in the Gaza Strip because Israel made them refugees. Israel expelled their forefathers from their villages and their land. Others fled for fear of Israel, and afterwards were not allowed to return – a crime no less serous than the expulsion.

All their villages were destroyed. They lived for 20 years under Egyptian rule, and another 50 years under Israeli occupation, which never stopped treating them cruelly in so many ways. When Israel left Gaza for its own purposes, it imposed a siege on them, and their fate became even worse. They haven’t been free for a single day in their lives. Nor is there any sign of hope that they will be. Not even the children. They live on one of the most crowded pieces of land in the world, which the United Nations has declared will be unfit for human habitation in another year and a half. Isn’t that enough for them to deserve support?

They are the last fighters against the Israeli occupation. While most of the occupied West Bank behaves like it’s given up, Gaza is not giving up. They were always more determined and daring than their brothers in the West Bank, maybe because of their greater suffering. There isn’t a single Israel who can imagine his or her life in Gaza. The meaning of growing up into their reality. Everything has already been said about that, and nobody gets upset. They have a harsh, undemocratic government, but Israel cannot cast the blame on Hamas. In the West Bank there’s a far more moderate government, and Israel is doing nothing to end the occupation there.

In recent weeks they buried 118 people – which, relative to the size of the population, is like 500 dead for us, and they will never stop fighting. They’re right, too.