Israeli Army, Gazans Are Waiting for You

Palestinians demonstrate to mark the first anniversary of the March of Return protests, Israel-Gaza border, March 30, 2019.
Mahmud Hams/AFP

I assume that many people, like me, are curious to know what was going through the mind of the man from Gaza who, at 5:20 A.M. last Tuesday, pressed the button that sent the entire region to the brink of the abyss.

Did he intend to press the button of his electric kettle, but in a moment of distraction, due to all the day’s worries, he pressed the button to fire a rocket instead? Was it after he left his house without being able to ensure that his children had bread? Was it because he was angry at Hamas, which is suppressing the protests over bread? Or because he was angry at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has put the Gaza Strip under financial siege? Or perhaps it was because of the strangulation caused by his neighbors, with their total blockade of sea, land and air?

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The reasons are many, but the outcome is the same. One missile ruined the joy. The leader of the regional power was forced to cut short his visit to the United States and rush back to Israel, without speaking at the AIPAC conference or attending the royal dinner with the liberator of the Golan Heights, U.S. President Donald Trump.

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And if the launch of that missile hadn’t had the potential to cause death and destruction, the Kahol Lavan party should have been ashamed of the fact that the man who pressed a single button embarrassed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more than three former chiefs of staff laden with medals have been able to do.

But observing from a distance, it is clear that for all Israel’s military might, a single match can turn it into a military power on chicken legs. It’s like a rusty nail in the hands of a poor but gutsy child facing a gleaming Cadillac owned by the toughest guy in the neighborhood. The tough guy intimidates the whole neighborhood, but from among the dilapidated houses on the other side of the tracks that uncultured boy steals out, the rusty nail in his hands, and scratches the entire side of the tough guy’s beloved Cadillac.

It’s truly painful; it truly is uncultured. The boy genuinely deserves to die and burn in the fires of hell. But reality surpasses even the wildest imagination.

After a year of demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border, which began on Land Day in 2018, the number of Palestinian casualties has reached about 200 dead and thousands of wounded. In Israel, by contrast, we’ve heard of almost no casualties aside from the seven people hurt by the criminal launch of that last missile. And nevertheless, Israelis feel threatened; it’s as if 200 people had been killed on the Israeli side rather than in Gaza.

And in fact, this is an ironclad rule: In every battle between the nail and the Cadillac, the nail will have the upper hand, because the nail can be thrown into the trash without anyone shedding a tear over it. Moreover, after the boy has lost everything, he no longer has anything left to lose, and there are a lot of nails on the ground. But the scratch on the Cadillac tears at the master’s heart and drives him crazy.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter how much Israel builds up its military might; its power will remain limited as long as a single resident of Gaza isn’t afraid to go up against it even at the price of certain death. Is it normal that after some 200 Gazans have been killed by the Israeli army, and hundreds more, perhaps even thousands, have lost a leg, residents of Gaza continue to go in droves, to use Bibi’s favorite expression, to demonstrate by the fence? There is one and only one explanation for this: Perhaps life in the shadow of the Israeli blockade is even worse than death.

Just two days ago, we witnessed a theater of the absurd: Two children from Gaza snuck across the border and asked Israeli troops to put them in jail, because they prefer jail to life under the Israeli blockade. The Israelis decided, due to their great consideration for children’s rights, to refuse this request and return the children to the prison of Gaza, this time via the main gate.

The hero of the hour now is Naftali Bennett, who wants to enter Gaza by force. Come right in, bro; instead of guarding the prison from outside, you’ll manage it from within. The Gazans are waiting for you. And when you return, bruised and weeping, don’t say we didn’t warn you.