Monday, January 12, 2009

The Situation in Gaza

The situation in Gaza has been a fairly big part of our lives the last 16 days. Where Eyal's parents live is in range of the rockets from Hamas for the first time, and gets a few rockets every couple of days. People are rarely hurt in Israel from these rockets, however they are more or less occurring constant in the areas of Israel close to the border of Gaza. Everyone has a bomb shelter in their house. The air-raid siren goes off and you have ( depending on where you live) between 15 and 45 seconds to get to the shelter before the quassam hits. Eyal's family have forty-five seconds.

But 40ks or so south things are much worse. I imagine living in Gaza, especially around Gaza City- your heart is always in your mouth. Your appetite has disappeared... I am not just talking about the civilians- but also the young soldiers- the majority of which are aged between 18-21 and have no choice as to where or when they are working for the army.

Now that some reserve army has also been called into Gaza, most of those people have young families. Like our friend who was visiting for Christmas the last two weeks. The day before he left to fly home, he heard he was being called into reserve duty. He has a baby due in May and a four year old at home. Saying goodbye at the Armidale airport and thinking he was on his way to Gaza was surreal, and horrible.

He didn't go in the end, and is instead doing his reserve duty by doing some work in Europe. From a humanitarian point of view I completely condemn what is happening at the moment, that Hamas continue to fire rockets into Israel- and that Israel continues to kill civilians and restrict access. I am hoping that a real lasting resolution, some kind of ceasefire which has the attention of neighbouring countries, Europe and the USA will come into existence. And there might be a hope of a good future for those living in Gaza, and also in Israel. yes we can...

Here is an email Eyal sent to some friends in Israel ( who are constantly discussing such issues).


when you are walking out in the bush and you discover that you made an error in navigating, do you turn back or continue walking in the wrong direction?

To be honest, I'm not confident that it is possible.
But I am confident that the current direction only leads to more violence and to life in the region becoming worse as time moves on.
How can it be reversed?
One way is for Israeli leaders to find the courage to tell Israelis the truth - that we have unlawfully and immorally kept the west bank and Gaza and the people living there under military rule.
That we have in fact been engaged in establishing an Apartheid rule in the occupied territories where some people are protected by law and are allowed to vote, and some people are non-people - they get no voice, they have limited rights, they are not protected against the law. That Israel has illegally been settling its citizens in occupied territories conquered by war.
Say the Truth, boldly, and then reach for an historic settlement with the Palestinians. We all know what such a settlement would look like, in general terms. The details are negotiable.

The Palestinian leaders would have to be brave enough to say to their people - using violence on innocent civilians was a mistake. It has delayed our freedom. It has brought suffering and pain to both sides on a larger scale then the occupation in itself was capable of. They have to be brave enough to agree to give up the aspirations of ever returning to the 1948 villages in return for a future that is not full of war and hatred, a future of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. They have to choose life alongside Israel over death and martyrdom.

And the leaders and people of both sides have to be brave enough to say to themselves and to the world - yes we can.


Eyal leaves for Israel on Wednesday for six weeks. Luckily he has been discharged from the army- so at least in that way he will be safe. But neither of us are safe anymore from feeling the sickness and fear of war, of seeing our loved ones leave the skype computer screen and head for the bomb shelter, surreal and horrible.


Blogger Berni at Yo-yonomore said...

If only Eyal could send that email to those that need to be the bravest right now.

Seneca said it better than I can
"He who is brave is free".

5:51 pm  
Blogger Catalin said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Sophie. I agree with Berni that Eyal's words are eloquent and clear and I wish everyone in the region could read them.

1:16 pm  

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