Sunday, September 22, 2019 -
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Gaza is hell on earth — why?

When I was a little girl, living a sheltered religious childhood where profanity was unheard and unacceptable, whenever I would hear people speak of “Aza,” Gaza in Hebrew, I would blush to my temples because to my child’s ear, it sounded like an abbreviation for “azazel,” hell. I thought Aza was hell. And was embarrassed to hear what to my mind was someone cursing.

In later years, we’d laugh about this little misinterpretation of mine.

I’m not laughing anymore. Only tears for the regular simple people of Gaza. It seems that Gaza, after all, is hell on earth.

I’ve seen the terrible, tear-inducing video of the poverty there. It’s as if Gaza were a third world country, maybe worse. Sewage in the streets. Even clean water is not a given. Starving, wide-eyed children.

So desperate a place that when their corrupt leaders, Hamas, offer them money to go to the border to get hurt, maimed or even killed, there are takers. Many takers.

Of course, it is Hamas who has intentionally created the misery of Gaza in the first place.

Remember, there is not a Jew left, nor a centimeter of Israeli territory left, in Gaza.

In 2005, Israel removed the people of the thriving Jewish community in Gaza, so as to take a first step toward an independent Palestinian state.

While Israel removed its people, it left behind its horticultural economy as a foundation on which Gazans could build and develop their own economy.

There was no blockade on Gaza.

In their first democratic elections, Gazans chose Hamas, a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction, as part of their leadership, which then violently threw out the other Palestinian leaders and took over Gaza.

Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses and suppressed the development of a normative economy, such as building schools, shelters and medical facilities. Instead, Hamas pocketed funds sent to them from international bodies and diligently developed their own economy, a terrorist economy, investing in building deep-in-the-earth terror tunnels to Israel, so as to invade the country and store their weapons. Each day the misery of their deprived citizenry increased before their eyes.

In time, Hamas turned the newly acquired independent Gaza into a launching pad of rocket terror upon Southern Israel, endangering the Israeli communities that border Gaza.

That’s when the blockade began.

Without compunction, Hamas also visits calculated disaster upon their own communities. Recently, Hamas attacked Kerem Shalom, the border crossing through which Israel sends Gaza humanitarian aid.

During the last Israel-Gaza war, I visited Kibbutz Alumim. If not for a thin little mesh wire separating it from Gaza, I could have stood one foot in Alumim, one in Gaza. We’re talking a proximity of centimeters.

The border fence where recent Gazan “protests” escalated to the unfortunate situation of loss of life is the border of Israel.

I put protests in quotes because, 40,000 people, some meat-cleaver wielding, some kite-bomb flying, some Molotov-cocktail throwing, some tire-burning to the point of the billowing clouds of smoke blocking visibility as blaring megaphones call for storming and ripping the border fence so as to reach and rip Jews hearts out of their bodies —-sorry, but a protest it is not.

That is a premeditated, armed, attempted invasion of a sovereign state with the express intention to kill and kidnap Israeli citizens.

That is war.

To hear 50 Gazans were killed is disturbing. It’s chilling, even if Hamas is responsible for using its citizens as pawns and sending them to certain death. Even if Hamas basically committed passive suicide upon these Gazans. Even if Israel had no choice but to kill these terrorists or potential terrorists in order to meet its moral obligation of defending its borders and citizenry.

Because make no mistake, these soldiers at the border prevented nothing short of a bloodbath from happening in Israel. Imagine thousands of Gazans breaching the border, infiltrating Israel, the hate in their heart all too ready to execute their Hamas charter’s call to destroy Israel. Because that is what Hamas stands for; literally, its raison d’etre for existence. To destroy another. Specifically, Israel.

I know when the IDF uses live ammo, it is as a last resort. The IDF’s restraint in the face of ongoing threats to their lives and the lives of the many communities near the border is real. Perhaps, one can argue, sometimes too restrained, at the expense of the lives of Israeli soldiers.

Even if the moral clarity is with Israel, which it is, a situation this complex that results in loss of life is distressing.

I am also distressed by the media’s biased coverage. Intentional or not, it is nothing less than terrorist sympathizing. Ironically, the ones losing out the most and paying the most devastating price for the media’s misguided moral confusion are the poor desperate children of Gaza.

I am distressed by the downright misleading and ridiculous split screen style coverage juxtaposing the dedication of the American embassy in Jerusalem and the violence on the border, with the j’accuse vibe, as if to imply Israel was celebrating while were Gazans dying. How low can you go? Especially when ironically, if anything, it is quite the opposite.

It is the Gazans who escalated tensions on the border by design, precisely so as to have a high death toll on the day of the embassy dedication. It was predictable and we all feared it. Hamas’ unseemly and immoral tactics of using human shields and drawing the world’s sympathy are transparent.

The only ones celebrating these deaths is Hamas itself. Its mission is accomplished — the international media rise to the bate like Pavlovian dogs. The dedication of the embassy was scheduled long ago. Hamas coordinated and aligned its escalation with this day, knowing that Israel would obviously respond so as to protect the border.

I would have expected the media to be able to distinguish between the words and concepts of causation, correlation, coincidence and connection. Never mind the fact that rejoicing in death is antithetical to Israeli and Jewish culture. As hard as one might look, no mainstream reaction like that has ever transpired.

Quite the contrary, a pattern in Jewish teachings is specifically not to rejoice in victory against your enemy, as all humans are created by G-d. At the Passover seder we remove wine droplets from our goblets to symbolize and remember the loss even our enemy’s lives in the process of our redemption from bondage. Another well known example is that of King David who could not build the Temple, since the same hands that were instruments of war cannot be the hands that lay the stones to the Temple. By contrast is the well known and documented vulgar Palestinian rejoicing at the murder of Jews by Palestinian terrorists. The mainstream media know this perfectly well.

They should also know that Egypt also borders Gaza. It is a third player in the relationship between Israel and Gaza. Somehow that piece has been consistently absent in the reporting.

I fail to understand how much of the mainstream media and UN bodies and NGOs who want to help Gazans don’t see how, by supporting Hamas and excoriating Israel for defending itself, they actually achieve the opposite goal.

I know Israel has done all it can. And yet, I do wonder, what more can we do for a long term solution for Gaza? Gazans’ bad luck of being born under Hamas rule and trapped in a blockaded hell, as justified and necessary as it is for Israel, is painful to watch. The real tragedy here is that right now there doesn’t seem to be a realistic solution at hand, be it from the right or the left of the Israeli political spectrum,

But what pains me the most, is the thought of war again with Gaza. Of the IDF soldiers being sent into that hell.

Because after all these years of Hamas rule, it seems that my childlike misunderstanding was sadly right after all. Aza truly is Azazel.

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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