The “day after” in the Gaza Strip is a day of grieving dozens of deaths, a day of funerals and a day of worry for the welfare of the 2,000 or so people who were injured. Some of them will be left with permanent disabilities, others will not receive proper medical care.
In Israel, it is a day for humanitarian, military and, above all, political reckoning. The prime minister and his cabinet, together with large parts of the public, so it seems, squint and see only the achievement of the U.S. Embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem and the Eurovision victory of Netta Barzilai. The American president also appears to be smugly satisfied with having met his campaign promise, even if it comes with a powerful explosive charge whose consequences can already be seen in Turkey’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the censure voiced by Arab leaders – including the heads of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, states considered friendly toward Israel.
Nakba Day barely registered in Israel, just one more in a series of confrontations won by the army. But for the Palestinians, nothing is over. The Nakba was incised more deeply into the collective memory, their struggle for independence will not stop and the extreme hardship of 2 million Gazans will continue to threaten the security of Israel’s population.
Israel cannot yet return to the routine of political infighting, the investigations of the prime minister and the beating of war drums against Iran. The events in the Gaza Strip have proved that the true threat is laid at its door, and it has no nuclear bombs. Now is the time for Israel to take courageous decisions that do not, however, carry a political price or require political concessions. Israel must allow Gaza’s injured through its borders for treatment in hospitals in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as care for those whose injuries require treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Israel must consider seriously any proposal from Hamas and Arab states to open the border crossings and lift the blockade of the Strip. This demand comes not only from the international community but also from the Israeli army – which predicted the latest flare-up and is urging the government to significantly ease the closure in order to dissolve the foundations of the misery that led to the recent demonstrations.
Now is also the time for the U.S. administration to wake up and move quickly toward keeping an important promise: to promote “the ultimate deal” and revive the peace process. Donald Trump must prove that the embassy move indeed contributes to peace and is not merely a poke in the Palestinians’ eye: The future of Israel is bound up with the future of millions of Palestinians who live under its control.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
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