Were it not for the Gaza Strip, the occupation would have been long forgotten. Were it not for the Gaza Strip, Israel would have erased the Palestinian problem from its agenda and continued on blithely with its crimes and annexations, with its routine, as if 4 million people were not living under its heel. Were it not for the Gaza Strip, the world would also have forgotten. Most of it already has. This is why we must now salute the Gaza Strip — mainly the spirit of the Gaza Strip, the only one that is still breathing life into the desperate and lost cause of the Palestinian struggle for liberty.
The resolute struggle of the Gaza Strip should also spark admiration in Israel. The handful of people with a conscience who still remain here should give thanks to the unbroken spirit of the Gaza Strip. The spirit of the West Bank crumpled after the failure of the second intifada, as did the spirit of the Israeli peace camp — most of which shattered long ago. Only the spirit of the Gaza Strip stands steadfast in its struggle.
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And so, anyone who does not want to forever live in an evil country must respect the embers that the young people of the Gaza Strip are still trying to stoke. Were it not for the kites, the fires, the Qassam rockets, the Palestinians would have entirely exited the awareness of everyone in Israel. Only the World Cup and the Eurovision Song Contest would hold any interest. Were it not for the blackened fields in the south, there would be a huge white flag fluttering not only over the Gaza Strip but over the entire Palestinian people. Seekers of justice, including in Israel, cannot wish for this kind of submission.
It’s difficult, even insolent, to write these words from tranquil and secure Tel Aviv, following one more sleepless and nightmarish night in the south, but all days and nights in the Gaza Strip are much more difficult due to Israel’s inhumane policy, supported by most of its citizens, including people who live in the south. They don’t deserve to shoulder the burden but every struggle exacts a price from innocent victims, who we wish do not become casualties. One should remember that only Palestinians are being killed. On Saturday, the 139th victim of Israeli fire along the border died. He was 20. On Friday a 15-year-old boy was killed. The Gaza Strip is paying the full price in blood. This doesn’t cause it to desist. That is its spirit. One cannot but admire it.
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The spirit of the Gaza Strip is unbroken by any siege. The evil ones in Jerusalem shut down the Kerem Shalom border crossing, and Gaza shoots. The malicious ones in the Kirya government complex in Tel Aviv prevent young people from receiving medical treatment in the West Bank in order to save their legs from being amputated.
For years they have been preventing cancer patients, including women and children, from receiving lifesaving treatment. Only 54 percent of requests to leave the Gaza Strip for medical reasons were approved last year, compared to 93 percent in 2012. That is wicked. One should read the letter written in June by 31 Israeli oncologists who called for a cessation of the abuse of Gaza women with cancer whose applications for exit permits take months to process, sealing their fates.
The 31 rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip Friday night are a restrained response to this malice. They are no more than a muted reminder of the fate of the Gaza Strip, addressed to those who think that 2 million people can be treated like this for over 10 years while continuing as if nothing was happening.
The Gaza Strip has no choice. Nor does Hamas. Any attempt to pin the blame on the organization — which I only wish was more secular, more feminist and more democratic — is an evasion of responsibility. It wasn’t not Hamas that closed the Gaza Strip. Nor did the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants close themselves off. Israel (and Egypt) did it. Every hesitant attempt by Hamas to make some progress with Israel is immediately answered by automatic Israeli refusal. Nor is the world willing to talk with them, who knows why.
All that’s left are the kites, which might lead to another round of merciless bombing and shelling by Israel, that Israel of course does not want. But what choice does the Gaza Strip have? A white flag of surrender over its fences, like the one the Palestinians in the West bank raised? A dream of a green island off the coast of the Mediterranean, which Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz will build for them? The struggle is the only path remaining, a path that should be respected, even if you are an Israeli who might be its victim.