Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gaza Pullout

Yes the Gaza pullout is making big news now. Yesterday it was even the opening item on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour - a long time favourite of mine (I’m addicted to that deep voice of Jenny Murey). Eviction of the settlers starts tomorrow.

I have some experience in getting evicted, but I have little sympathy for the 8000 Gaza settlers, the world most obnoxious gated community. I wrote about it when I was in Jerusalem, so I’m not going to say much. Yes, in some ways it is very important, it will relieve the people of Gaza from a daily nightmare, and – at last – the settlers are being taught a lesson that they can't do whatever they want. But in other ways it’s not much more than a big media show, an intra-Israeli drama. They talk of this as the biggest Israeli national trauma. This is what the Israeli general in charge told Haaretz newspaper yesterday:

... the majority of our soldiers will come out of it with a scratch. Everyone who knocks on a door... will remember the face of the person on whose door he knocked. The look in his eyes. The mother with the two children behind her.

Just to put this into context. In the last four years the Israeli Army evicted at least 16,000 people from their houses in Rafah and Khan Yunis, not far from the settlements, because they were living too close to the border patrol road. Thousands of civilians kicked out with a couple of hours notice, and their houses demolished. No compensation as far as I know. And certainly no talk of a mental 'scratch' then, no talk of mothers and children. Only someone with a blind spot big enough to cover the 1.5 million people of Gaza will have time to agonize over the eviction of the settlers. This is a completely ethnocentric self-absorbed discourse, in which Palestinian life and property mean almost nothing. Yesterday a 22 year old university student was held for hours in the sun in a West Bank check point until he died of dehydration. I couldn’t find it in Israeli newspapers.

And after all this the big general says:
I am very angry at the Palestinians ... I think the war they are waging is one that no civilized person ought to accept. I'm not getting into the question of whether they are fighting for their independence or not. The way they are doing it shows their inhumanity. They are not even letting us leave the Gaza Strip. They are not letting us free ourselves from their impossible embrace.

He was obviously expecting flowers and thankyou letters.
OK enough ranting.

1 comment:

Electric Sadhu said...

I think this is the right context to remind the former Israeli Air Force commander (now Chief of Staff) previous remarks about possible mental "scratches".

On August 2002, an IAF warplane dropped a one-tone bomb on a building in which a top Hamas bombmaker and commander, Saleh Shehada, was hiding. However, the bombing caused more damage than expected and many thin structures around the building were hit as well. Shehada was killed, but with him 14 other civilians were killed.

When the reporter asked him about the feelings of a pilot and what he feels when he drops a bomb, Halutz answered:

...I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb's release. A second later it's gone, and that's all. That is what I feel.