Where have you been until now?

Bar Heffetz
on May 15, 2018

Bar Heffetz of Kibbutz Nirim in the western Negev has been pleading for months that someone should pay attention to what is happening in Gaza. Now that the Strip is exploding, he is exploding in anger.

I admit that I was not surprised by what happened yesterday on the Gaza border. Horrified, angry, sad, in despair? Yes, but not at all surprised, and perhaps that’s why my other feelings only intensified.

As clouds of smoke cover the sky, distant echoes of gunfire are joined by the hum of drones and helicopters. When online news reports describe the steep rise in casualties in Gaza — while celebrations and the preparations for a victory party take place simultaneously in Jerusalem — you realize that something is very, very wrong here.

I am saddened by thoughts of lives frivolously taken, of grieving families, of soldiers sent to confront an impossible situation — one that they will carry with them for many more years. I am saddened because a region I love so much has been unable to get a little peace and quiet for almost 20 years. And I am saddened by the situation of my neighbors to the west who have been condemned to a life of poverty and deprivation by cynical and fanatical leaders on both sides.

I am angry. Mostly angry.

I’m angry at the Israeli media, which only yesterday remembered to tell us halfheartedly that without Israel deciding on a strategy for Gaza, the bloodshed and riots will continue, as if they did not know that was the case every day for the past decade. A media that deliberately chose not to report about what is going on in Gaza, out of laziness and a hunger for high ratings. A media that since Operation Protective Edge has not asked government officials the simple question: “What have you done to change the situation in Gaza?”

I am angry at the Israeli government, which has decided — as if it were the UN — that it is unconcerned by what is happening in Gaza. For this government, no access to electricity, work, water, movement in Gaza, is not its problem, and the Palestinians can be left to suffocate.

I am saddened by thoughts of lives frivolously taken, of grieving families, of soldiers sent to confront an impossible situation — one that they will carry with them for many more years.

I am angry at Israel’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, who promised to kill Ismail Haniyeh in 48 hours. And I’m angry at all the ministers who haven’t taken a second to listen to the IDF’s recommendations regarding Gaza, even as the State Comptroller’s report determined that they had not conducted any strategic discussion on what was happening there. A government that has not made any attempts to find a solution is hiding behind an insane arrogance that is exploding in my face and in the faces of my children time and again.

I am angry at the radical left that remembers Gaza only when Palestinians are killed and the army can be blamed for murder. Where were you when the army begged to provide work permits to Gazans? I did not see you supporting this endeavor. Where have you been over the past four years?

I am angry at the non-opposition that is afraid to mention Gaza, and has suddenly remembered to support the army defending us on the border. It’s great to support the IDF, but it is absolutely devastating not to offer any alternative, and not to argue every single day that the policy of the current Israeli government is leading to our demise.

I am angry at Hamas and the Palestinian Authority because, for the sake of their internal wars, they are letting Gaza die instead of offering a genuine initiative that could force Israel to do something about the situation.

It was not a surprise. It was a disaster waiting to happen, and the situation will only worsen if the Israeli government does not change its policy quickly. Because there is only one thing for certain in Gaza: the next time will always be worse.

And no, I’m not optimistic. I do not see this government allowing freedom of movement and commerce — the two measures without which there is not even a shred of chance to lift Gaza up — let alone reestablishing a real connection to the West Bank or steps toward peace.

Maybe under the next government it will happen. And until that government comes, we can only pray “sheyihiyeh tov”.

NOTE: This post was originally posted in Hebrew on Hamakom Hachi Ham Bagehenom. You can read the original here.