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The Jewish Report Editorial

The catch-22 situation that is Gaza

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As I was heading home on Tuesday, I heard on ChaiFM that 460 rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israel since late Sunday. That is an outrageous number. If every one of them hit inhabited areas, thousands of Israelis would have been killed.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Nov 15, 2018

That didn’t happen, thanks to all the measures Israel takes to protect its civilians. The Iron Dome, for one, was hard at work trying to ensure that any rocket aimed at a populated area was stopped long before it reached its destination. This protection mechanism is used at a massive financial cost to the Israeli economy.

Nevertheless, the two-day attack claimed two lives and injured 85 people. It also caused anger, fear, frustration, and devastation in some people’s lives.

That was not the intention. Those rockets were aiming to kill and maim as many Israelis – men, women, children, whoever – as possible.

So, why am I not hearing world outrage? Am I naïve to expect under the circumstances that the world would be angry that this is happening? Perhaps. I guess I should know better. There was hardly a peep about it in the mainstream South African news. That is the way of the world - especially South Africa.

Truth is, even in Israel, some have been quite blasé about the shelling, referring to it having happened “down south”.  

However, having been to the Gaza border recently, I have such a clear picture of the lovely, apparently peaceful, towns and kibbutzim on the border. I don’t have to imagine too hard to have an inkling of what their life was like this week. No work. No school. No going to get food for the children. Staying as close to the shelter or their safe room as possible so that they can get there in seconds. Being trapped. And while the number of rockets was unprecedented, rockets being fired across the border into this region was not new.

Many Israelis who live near to Gaza spend a great deal of time in their safe rooms or praying that the rockets don’t land anywhere near them. 

Most of those people “down south” are angry with the Israeli government. They believe it has been soft on Hamas (which is behind the rockets), by pulling back with a ceasefire agreement.

It is not because they don’t want the shelling to stop, to the contrary. It is about the fact that the ceasefire is only as good as the people who uphold it. There have been many ceasefire agreements, and clearly they aren’t upheld for very long. The shelling comes back again and again, sometimes more rockets, and sometimes less.

These people, as quoted in a recent article we ran, can’t get post-traumatic stress disorder because they can’t get past the trauma. The children live from Tzeva Adom (red alert siren) to Tzeva Adom.

I can understand their anger. However, what is the alternative? War? Sending Israeli troops into Gaza to make Hamas stop? Is that the solution? I hope not.

I sent a message to a woman in Israel, who is very dear to me, on Wednesday. She has a son and his family living in Ashkelon, and I wanted to let her know that I am thinking of them. She said that for her son and his family, it hadn’t been pleasant to run to the sealed room at night and not go to school. She said she was also very worried about her grandchildren in the army. The part that got to me most, though, was her last line, “Thank G-d we were not dragged into a war.” She is a mother, grandmother, and fourth-generation Israeli. No matter what people say, I do not believe anyone really wants war. They want to be safe and live without the constant threat of violence. They want their enemies to stop trying to destroy what they have in Israel.

When people say that Israel doesn’t want peace, and it is the aggressor, perhaps they should spend a day in Sderot, Ashkelon, Kfar Aza, and other places on the Gaza border. It might help to understand the desperate need for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis. It is enough!

I only wish I had an answer to this catch-22 situation. I don’t, though. I will leave that to the brilliant strategists I would love to believe populate the Israeli government.

In this edition, however, we have tried to connect with as many people who have been drawn into the Gaza rocket fire this week, from ex-South Africans to a former Israeli Ambassador to SA. We wanted to bring their experiences home to us on the southern tip of Africa. 

In one of these stories, it was quite telling that while we are concerned about our brethren in Israel, they are concerned about us in South Africa. This man said he feels safer in Ashkelon under fire than walking through the streets of Johannesburg. Go figure!

Shabbat Shalom!

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