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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem

News Digest: Jerusalemite Responses to Clashes on the Israel-Gaza Border


"Here and there, people try to tag me as right-wing or left-wing, and usually I go along with it – whatever you want, feel free to do so. But this time, before people respond to me based on stereotypes instead of what I actually wrote, I want to emphasize: I’m not…

On to our current issue, I am inclined to believe the IDF. I’ve heard many testimonies that the IDF will not shoot people unless they come really close to the border and try to cross it. Because of that, when the IDF says that this is what happened yesterday, I seriously consider what they say.

Everyone agrees that a few thousand people marched or ran towards the border, that they were shot, and that around 1200 were injured.
And I try to understand: What causes thousands of people to move towards a border, when they know for certain that they will be shot? And if they weren’t certain at first, after the first few people were shot, why do the rest of the people continue? I mean, they knew that there was nothing waiting for them on the other side. If they were to succeed in breaching and crossing the border, they would be shot on the other side. They weren’t going to stop the opening of the [American] embassy, they weren’t about to conquer Al-Aqsa, or return to the homes they had left in 1948.

In spite of all this they marched and were shot, and those that weren’t shot continued to march and get shot.
Only the deepest despair could lead people to act like this, and we know that the despair in Gaza is deep. At least now I know how deep, and I don’t know what will happen when it deepens.

And what does this say about a state that lives alongside two million people in despair, who can do nothing to alleviate it? What kind of despair could it generate for us? And don’t ask me: ‘What do you suggest?’ I don’t have any suggestions. Why are you even asking me?"

– Hagai Agmon-Snir [1]

[Selected comments:]
– "This mantra: ‘They have nothing to lose’. They have nothing to lose because they sanctify death, because they want to be shahids [martyrs]. That’s the education they received – [an education] of terror and hate.
Gaza was an amazing coastal strip – a beach with palm trees, factories. What was it missing? Terror. Their choice of terror has brought them to this place.
They also burned the gas facilities at Kerem Shalom [2], because that is what they’re like: devastating and suicidal. They have a vision: 72 virgins. That summarizes it all. If they loved life, they would make the best of the donations they receive and be busy developing."

– "I totally agree, and I think that this despair will cause extensive and long lasting damage that we cannot even begin to imagine. Regarding your last point – I think that when people ask, ‘so what do you suggest?’, it’s not because they think that you personally can influence policy. Rather, that is the Israeli way of conducting a public discussion. I think it’s great because it allows a clarification of positions; ‘A knife cannot sharpen but with the aid of another knife’. […]"

– [Original poster in response:] "I think that we have to accept the fact that there is nothing to suggest. There really is nothing to do, and many adherents to whichever [peace] agreement, or fans of ‘flattening Gaza’, forgive me. We have to accept our despair and theirs. Only then, maybe (and maybe not), will relevant suggestions be generated. But when asking for suggestions, what is actually being said is: Tell me something so that I’ll be able to explain to you what it isn’t possible. And that’s too easy because there isn’t, currently, a practical suggestion."

– "It isn’t necessarily despair, it could also be religious, or political, fervor. The Japanese Kamikaze pilots weren’t in a state of despair."

"55 killed and over 1200 wounded.

I'm writing this post for my good friends- my moral, humane friends, and for all those who are concerned and angry over today's deaths and injuries on the border with Gaza.

At the time of Israel's exodus from Egypt, when the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea just before overtaking the Israelites – our sages say that God scolded the angels and prevented them from singing and rejoicing. God said, 'my creations are drowning in the sea and you are singing?!'

I write these words with great caution, and with a sense of mission. I can understand and identify with all of those good and moral Zionists who fear that the many Palestinian victims may be our fault, the result of mistakes made by our side.

I’m writing because I am one of the few who was there – in uniform, in the reserves, but I was there. Yes, right there on the fence where the demonstrations are happening. It was last Friday – but I saw it with my own eyes. I was on our side but I could see and hear and understand everything. I want to testify from my firsthand knowledge, not a theoretical point of view. Because I was there.

I want to testify that what I saw and heard was a tremendous, supreme effort from our side, to prevent in every possible way Palestinian deaths and injuries.

Of course, the primary mission was to prevent hundreds of thousands of Gazans from infiltrating into our territory. That kind of invasion would be perilous, mortally dangerous to the nearby communities, would permit terrorists disguised as civilians to enter our kibbutzim and moshavim [2], and would leave us with no choice but to target every single infiltrator.

That’s why our soldiers were directed to prevent infiltration – in a variety of ways, only using live ammunition as a last resort. The IDF employs many creative means of reducing friction with Gazans, and uses numerous methods, most of which are not made public, to prevent them from reaching the fence.

In addition, over the last few weeks there have been serious efforts to save the lives of children and civilians who have been pushed to the front lines by Hamas – who are trying to hide behind them in order to infiltrate and attack Israel.

When there is no alternative and live ammunition must be used to stop those who storm the fence, the soldiers make heroic and sometimes dangerous efforts not to kill, and only to injure those on the other side.

The IDF is stationing senior commanders at every confrontation point to ensure that every shot is approved and backed up by a responsible figure with proper authority. Every staging area has an especially large number of troops in order to make sure that soldiers are not put into life-threatening situations where they will have no choice but to fire indiscriminately.

A situation where thousands of people rush at you is frightening, even terrifying. It is extremely difficult to show restraint, and it requires calm, mature professionalism.

55 dead is an enormous number. But I can testify from my first-hand experience, that every bullet and every hit is carefully reported, documented and investigated, in Excel spreadsheets. Literally. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes.

This isn’t the time or place to discuss the situation in general, and the desperate plight of the residents of Gaza. I’m not interested in starting a political discussion here, although I do have a clear position.

What I’m trying to do is present to everyone who really wants to listen, the extent of the IDF’s enormous effort to protect Israel’s borders while minimizing injuries and loss of life on the other side.

And despite all this – the situation on the border with Gaza is deteriorating. I hope that we won’t be called up again soon for reserve duty to protect our country. But if we are, we will go with the knowledge that we are serving a just and moral cause. We do not rejoice when we must go to war, but we also don’t go like sheep to the slaughter. Not anymore."

– Kinli Tur-Paz, west Jerusalemite


"Plea for mercy for the martyrs of Gaza.
55 martyrs."

– Ask Jerusalem

[Selected Comments:]

– "May God have mercy on all of them and bring them to Heaven with the prophets and martyrs."

– "The heart aches and the eye fills with tears; not because of your martyrdom, but because you are in paradise above. In heaven, you are aching because of the naturally sleeping Arab nation, waiting for the last plot against the rights of our people."

"How did the Occupation succeed in killing the spirit of resistance among the people of the West Bank,except for the ones whom God has granted mercy?
The Occupation provided basic necessities in the West Bank from food and drink, to electricity and work permits inside the Occupation [pre-1967 borders]. Most of them [in the West Bank] do make money and improve this miserable life.

Any act of resistance is feared, down to the Facebook post…The most important thing is to guard the work permit or a person’s employment, get paid and nothing else. It is feared the source of income will go. We must trust God and believe He is the sustainer when this happens to us. We must all rethink what we are and rethink our religion. The problem is not our religion, but the way we understand this religion.
God is with you, Gaza
Gaza resists alone."

– Ask Jerusalem

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] Hagai Agmon-Snir​ is the director of The Jerusalem Intercultural Center​ which aims to create and implement models to make Jerusalem a culturally competent city.
[2] Kerem Shalom is the border crossing between Israel and Gaza. Last week, Palestinian rioters set fire to a fuel complex on the Gaza side of the crossing, damaging the only entry point for fuel in to Gaza.
[3]The first picture says 'Ask Jerusalem' in the top right corner. The writing in the middle says, 'So that one day we will return. 70th Palestinian Nakba Day.' The second picture features Kinli Tur-Paz, the author of the second West Jerusalem post. The third picture lists several of the Gazans killed in Monday's clashes.

#Gaza #Demonstrations #Army #Clashes #Nakbah_Day