Opinion |

Goliath and the Gazan Pistol

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Protestors try to climb the fence of the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, August 21, 2021.
Protestors try to climb the fence of the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, August 21, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Adel Hana
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Explain something to me: Someone aims a rifle at you, into your yard. Through a slit in a cement wall. So you’re the criminal? By what philosophical law is that someone permitted to insert his lethal weapon through the slit and endanger your life, while you are forbidden to insert a pistol through that same slit to keep him away from your yard?

Explain something else to me: How is it that thousands of armed people hover around your yard for years, around the clock, but you are called the criminal? Thousands of armed people, who can also fly in the air and sail in the sea, are preventing you from going out to earn a living, to live, to breathe, to enjoy yourself, to meet friends. Your children are born and know nothing except the barrier around the yard and the thorns that stick out of it. So you are the lawbreaker? You are the terrorist? By what international convention are they permitted to suffocate you and your children, and to be praised for their restraint to boot?

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The IDF already knows that Yahya Sinwar wants to heat things up in Gaza because he’s in trouble on the internal front. In the same vein, why not say that Benny Gantz and Aviv Kochavi want to heat things up in Gaza because they have to divert attention from the debate on the outrageous pensions for military officials? Acting as if Gaza is a separate state and independent in its decisions is a deception.

Since 1991, before the Qassams and the suicide bombings, Israel has been gradually cutting the Gaza Strip off from the world, from the rest of the country, from Palestinian society in the West Bank. The disconnect is part of an Israeli plan to foil the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories conquered in 1967. Israel’s misleading propaganda, saying that cutting off Gaza is a security measure, has been serving it since then, and too many people dance to this tune and therefore enlarge the pistol in the slit until it’s on a par with the 9/11 attacks.

The picture of the pistol versus the rifle barrel has become another symbol of David versus Goliath. Some in Gaza are rejoicing as if the gunfire from the pistol, which seriously wounded a Border Police officer, signals the liberation of Palestine, or at least of Gaza. First it was the incendiary balloons that were celebrated. Every so often, rocket fire spurs talk of imminent victory and liberation. These are the illusions of inmates of the world’s largest concentration camp. These are the piteous, pain-killing cheers of the besieged and hungry who yearn to live life with dignity, for the possibility to exercise their talents and achieve their life goals.

And these are exactly the illusions that the army, Shin Bet and prime ministers like to augment as battle cries. Because this is how public awareness is diverted from the main fact, which is that Israel is imprisoning two million people and turning them into beggars. The world sprinkles crumbs of charity and accepts this overriding, well-planned original crime by the world’s only Jewish military power.

Far from the celebrants who are shown on TV, the forcibly unemployed sit idle, serving a life sentence, knowing all too well that no Hamas rocket ever improved their situation, and no war between Israel and Gaza ever brought or ever will bring a Palestinian victory. They know Hamas and the IDF have a common propaganda interest in exaggerating the military threat posed by Hamas, in order to conceal the basic political reason for this situation: thwarting the Palestinian national project.

There is no way to rehabilitate Gaza while ignoring Israel’s intention to keep it cut off, and while treating it like a miserable and dangerous island in the ocean. Only by respecting the residents’ right to free movement – which entails working in Israel and the West Bank, studying in the West Bank and abroad, engaging in imports and exports, having normal get-togethers with family and friends – will the physical reconstruction of Gaza and rehabilitation of the sense of self-worth and creative capabilities of the people who live there be possible. Israeli governments and Hamas are not interested in seeing such a development. Which is reason enough for everyone else to want it.

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