Monday, December 28, 2009

The Horror of Gaza: One Year Later

It's been one year since shells and bombs started raining down on Gaza, and predictably both sides are claiming victory.

The Israeli hawks say it greatly reduced the number of rockets raining down on Israel. The Hamas hawks claim they won because they weren't eliminated.

But who in their right mind can call this victory?

When so many children were killed and so many are still suffering.

"Often they wake up in the night shouting," she said. "Every time they hear tanks on the Israeli side of the border, they think we are going to be attacked again. They feel they have no future."

"This is a traumatised nation....Young children in Gaza are surviving under extreme levels of stress, which will pose long-term dangers not only for their mental health, but for the future of the region."

So I'm going with this verdict.

Today it is more shameful to be an Israeli because the world, as opposed to Israelis, saw the scenes. It saw thousands of dead and injured taken in the trunks of cars to something between a clinic and a primitive hospital in an imprisoned and weakened region one hour from flourishing Tel Aviv, a region where the helpless had nowhere to run from Israel's arsenal. The world saw schools, hospitals, flour mills and small factories mercilessly bombed and blown up. It saw clouds of white-sulphur bombs billowing over population centers, and it saw burned children.

The world saw the Israeli Goliath strike mercilessly at the Palestinian David. It saw the balance of killing: one Israeli to every 100 Palestinians, and the Israel Defense Forces' new and terrifying doctrine by which almost everything goes if it prevents casualties on our side. The world knew that in this case a democracy was striking a region that does not enjoy self-determination, whose inhabitants lack basic human rights - refugees and the children of refugees living under siege. So the world responded with justifiable severity toward us; it refused to forgive and be silent.

And this brutal fact:

A year later, with $4.5 billion collected to rehabilitate Gaza lying in banks' basement vaults because Israel refuses to open Gaza's gates to let in supplies, the world is silent, leaving Gaza to its fate, to its ruins. But Gaza has not forgotten its wounds - it cannot forget them. The 325,000 people whose homes were destroyed, 1,300 bereaved families and thousands of injured and disabled, debilitated by anxiety and terror, remain in Gaza. Their suffering has not dissipated.

My hope is that one day Israelis and Palestinians will learn to live in peace with each other, and that in the words of Bradley Burston, who was like a beacon of decency in the darkness of the Gaza war, peace, justice and reason will finally prevail.

"Yehudim, Aravim - M'sarvim L'hiyot Oyavim" Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.

I want a word with the people - my people and theirs - Who treat land as sacred, and people not theirs, as dirt: My war with you is over. My enemy today is the word Never.

But for now the call of humanity is the same as it was a year ago. Stop the violence.

Open the borders. Save the children.

Let Gaza live...

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