The next war will break out in the summer. Israel will give it another childish name and it will take place in Gaza. There’s already a plan to evacuate the communities along the Gaza Strip border.
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Israel knows this war will break out, it also knows why – and it’s galloping toward it blindfolded, as though it were a cyclic ritual, a periodical ceremony or a natural disaster that cannot be avoided. Here and there one even perceives enthusiasm.
It doesn’t matter who the prime minister is and who the defense minister is – there’s no difference between the candidates as far as Gaza is concerned. Isaac Herzog and Amos Yadlin are saying nothing of course, and Tzipi Livni is boasting that thanks to her no port was opened in Gaza. The rest of the Israelis aren’t interested in Gaza’s fate either and soon it will be forced to remind them again of its disaster in the only way left to it, the rockets.
Gaza’s disaster is dreadful. No mention of it is made in the Israeli discourse and certainly not in the most dumbed down, hollow election campaign there’s ever been here. It’s hard to believe, but Israelis have invented a parallel reality, cut off from the real one, a callous, unfeeling, denying reality, while all this adversity, most of it of their own making, is taking place a short distance from their homes. Babies are freezing to death under the debris of their homes, youths risk their lives and cross the border fence just to get a food portion in an Israeli lock up. Has anyone heard of this? Does anyone care? Does anyone understand that this is leading to the next war?
Salma lived only 40 days, like the eternity of a butterfly. She was a baby from Beit Hanoun on the northeast of the Gaza Strip, who died last month of hypothermia, after her tiny body froze in the wind and rain that penetrated into the plywood-and-plastic hut she has been living in with her family, since their house was bombed.
“She was frozen like ice cream,” her mother said of the last night of her infant’s life. UNWRA Spokesman Chris Gunness wrote about Salma last in week in the British newspaper the Guardian. Mirwat, her mother, told him that when she was born she weighed 3.1 kilograms. Her three–year– old sister, Ma’ez, is hospitalized due to frostbite.
Ibrahim Awarda, 15, who lost his father in an Israeli bombardment in 2002, was more fortunate. He decided to cross the fence between Gaza and Israel. “I knew I’d be arrested,” he told the New York Times reporter in Gaza last week. “I told myself, maybe I’ll find a better life. They gave me good food and then threw me back.”
Ibrahim was held for about a month in two prisons in Israel before being tossed back to the destruction, squalor, hunger and death. Three hundred Gazans drowned in the sea last September, in a desperate attempt to leave the prison Strip. Eighty-four Gazans were arrested by the Israel Defense Forces in the last six months after trying to enter Israel, most of them just to flee from the hell they live in. Nine more were arrested this month.
Atiya al-Navhin, 15, also tried to enter Israel in November, just to escape his fate. He was shot by IDF soldiers, treated in two Israeli hospitals and returned to Gaza in January. Now he’s lying paralyzed and unable to speak in his home.
Some 150,000 homeless people live in Gaza and about 10,000 refugees in UNRWA shelters. The organization’s budget was spent after the world totally ignored its commitment to contribute $5.4 billion to rebuild Gaza. The commitment to negotiate lifting the blockade on Gaza – the only way to avoid the next war and the one after it – has also been broken. Nobody talks about it. It’s not interesting. There was a war, Israelis and Palestinians were killed in it for nothing, let’s move on to the next war.
Israel will again pretend to be surprised and offended – the cruel Arabs are attacking it with rockets again, for no reason.
Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz