Opinion

Operation Status Quo

A Palestinians man sits amidst the rubble of a building that was destroyed during Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, May 6, 2019.
AFP

If your slave is tightly chained to a pole on the ground floor of the grand villa in which you and your children live, any movement he makes to free himself constitutes a gross violation of the sacred status quo; many would consider it a rebellion against the villa’s inhabitants, who only wanted to establish a national home — not alongside, but in place of, the Palestinians.

Most Israelis will ask what’s wrong with the status quo. We’re here, they’re there. They forget that “there” was created by those who are “here.” “There” live those who are encircled by the sea, air and land, with only enough calories to survive. Most Israelis view the status quo between Israel and the Gaza Strip as divinely ordained, and any attempt to undermine it as a type of heresy. Israeli public diplomacy presents Gaza as eternal proof of Arab aggression. Is there a country in the world that would agree for its residents to be subject to rocket barrages?

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 26Haaretz

This is indeed an appropriate question, but it’s no less appropriate to ask, is there any other country in the world imposing a hermetic closure on its neighbor and cutting off its residents from the rest of their people? Is there another people in the world who in 70 years have been scattered among seven or eight islands, with borders and other nations dividing them — in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, in Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon?

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These questions aren’t asked, of course. All they say is, “We left Gaza, what more do you want?”

Really, thanks so much for the lovely gift. The gift resembles a lovely iPhone that a parent gives his child, while keeping the charger in a safe. Gaza is indeed a treat — with an amazing sea, a beautiful beach and people who are salt of the earth, courageous and industrious — but are living in impossible circumstances.

So as not to go overboard in describing the great hardship of the Gazans, Israelis are quick to explain that the siege was imposed in response to the smuggling of raw materials for weapons manufacture and the airstrikes are meant to destroy its store of rockets. But despite the siege and the harsh blows, “Defense officials now estimate that Israeli military operations over the past year have reduced the number of rockets [in the possession of Hamas to several thousand,” manufactured by Iran, China or Hamas itself” (Yaniv Kubovich, May 5). At this rate, if the harsh blows against Gaza continue, a nuclear power is liable to spring up there.

Meanwhile, the price is being paid by ordinary Gazans, who from all this bounty — weapons on the one hand and sacks of dollars for Hamas on the other — get only destruction and distress and a preference for death over life. And on the other side, Israelis who remain in shelters for days are forced to listen to the lions roar on the left and right, live and in frequent repeat broadcasts.

Gazans live between two types of status quo. The first is between the Strip and Israel. The second is within the Strip: It is between them and Hamas, which oppresses them when they protest their poverty and dire living conditions, without even talking about their struggle for democracy.

Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, one of the very first converts to Islam, known as the protector of the poor, said: "I am surprised that he has no food in his house and he doesn’t go out with his sword drawn.” The Gaza Strip is suffering and is on the verge of starvation and it needs all possible support, but the obtuseness here blinds Israeli leaders. They see Gaza as an enemy that must be subdued, rather than an opportunity to begin reconciling with the Palestinian people.