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Israel: Israeli Bloggers Respond to Crisis in Palestine

Overview of the Situation–

On Thursday, January 17th, the Israeli government shut the border crossing between Israel and Gaza, stopping the flow of all goods between the two countries, including food and fuel. On Sunday, Gaza's power plant announced major cutbacks, and by Monday, an estimated 40 per cent of Gaza's population was experiencing blackouts.

With food supplies running low and hospital generators rapidly losing power, international relief groups, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Oxfam, and the World Health Organization declared a looming humanitarian crisis.

In response to mounting international pressure, including a personal phone call from Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the blockage was partially lifted and 13 aid trucks entered Gaza today with supplies from Jordan.

Gaza's border with Israel was closed down in response to an especially high number of rockets launched last week. Elder of Ziyon's January Qassam Calendar counted the combined number of rockets at 138 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Since the border closing, the number fell to a total of 50 on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, increasing again to 18 today as the border was partially opened.

Over the last seven years, over 6,300 rockets have been fired by Gazan militants on Israel's civilian population.

Israeli Bloggers Ask: What Would You Do?

Israeli bloggers ask, “What would you do? How would your country react?

Rachel, a rabbinical student living in Jerusalem and the author of the Rachel Chronicles, is critical of the media's condemnation of Israel, asking them to think about Israel's options in the face of ongoing rocket fire on civilian populations.

“What I am not impressed with is the quickness with which people, the media, organizations, etc. are ready to abandon Israel and paint the Israeli government as either an evil empire that submits an entire population to collective punishment, or a weak government that can't keep its’ own residents safe. When the Gaza power plant decided to shut down, did it also turn off the lights to the world's critical eye?…

The spin that all the major newspapers in the States is that big bad Israel is cutting off Gaza. And while it is true that the border crossings have been closed, Israel is being very careful not allow a humanitarian crisis to emerge – at least outside of the city of S'derot, which is the one that they are trying to prevent…

S'derot has lived under a barrage of rocket attacks for the past seven years, or so. Israel has been very very patient and blatantly turned a blind eye to the daily torture that Gaza militants have poured on them. It is time for that bullying and harassment to stop. And while I respect the right of the Gaza civilians to live in peace, until the people that they fund, support, house, and hide stop trying to murder the people of S'derot, I will support the Israeli government's attempts to stop that murder.”

Yael of Oleh Girl adds to Rachel's criticism of what she perceives as the media's slanted reporting.

“A lot of newspapers carried as headlines, Abbas’ claim that Israel was conducting a ‘massacre.’

Nowhere did you read during the three days that such headlines listed above were appearing that, during those same three days more than 130 Qassam rockets hit the Israeli city of Sderot. Also during those same three days, more than 80 mortars were fired from Gaza into Israeli civilian communities along the Gaza border. Nowhere did you read that… snipers fired repeatedly at civilian targets or that Hamas issued a statement calling for constant sniper attacks against Israeli farmers and farm workers. Nowhere did you read that, in just the past year alone, Palestinian militants have launched considerably more than 1,000 rockets targeting the civilian population of Sderot.”

The Gentile Warrior questions why Israel is seen as the aggressor when its civilian population is also under attack, and asks how Gaza can simultaneously attack and demand services from Israel.

“Israel didn't do this just for the heck of it. Why doesn't this group accost Hamas, Fatah, and Al Aqsa to stop launching rockets into Israel? Why is the respondent considered the guilty party? If the “palestinians” would stop launching rockets they would have food and fuel. Instead, they allow their elected and unelected leaders to continue with attacks on Israel and expect Israel to keep feeding them. This is beyond insane…

This is a self imposer humanitarian crisis. The “palestinians” brought this retribution down on themselves. This same civilian population put Hamas, a [known] terrorist organization, in charge. This is the repercussions of that ignorant act. Besides, isn't it quite embarrassing to rely on Israel for your basic needs? The same nation the “palestinians” want to erase from the map is the one that can shut off fuel supplies as well as food? It is suicidal to want to destroy the only supplier of daily necessities…

Have them come to us unarmed. Have them come to us after they have overthrown the murderous regime they have put in charge. Until then let them have their self-induced humanitarian crisis. The longer the world caters to these murderers the long they will commit murder.”

David Bogner of Treppenwitz echoes Gentile Warrior's concerns and asks why humanitarian aid is not being channeled through Egypt's border with Gaza.

“Gazastan cannot continue to be both an openly hostile entity, committed to Israel's destruction… and at the same time a fully dependant beggar-state that relies on Israel for all of its basic needs. This kind of dysfunctional relationship has never existed before in the world, and I dare say no other nation would tolerate such a parasitic situation to continue.

The Gazan border with Egypt is, for all intents and purposes, open. Weapons, money and people pour across from Egypt unchecked every single day. There is no reason why the world can't channel it's sympathy for the Gazan population into humanitarian aid supplied via Egypt. Except, of course, that this would remove the albatross from around Israel's neck… something that nobody really wants to do.

The world seems to enjoy the delicious irony of Israel being forced to keep the lights and heat on in the kassam workshops and explosive laboratories of Gaza, even as the lethal fruit of those laboratories rains down on the heads of Israeli civilians in the western Negev.”

World renowned author (and occasional blogger) Naomi Ragen gets specific. She points out that many of the employees of the Ashkelon power plant are residents of neighboring Sderot and that Ashkelon has additionally been the target of attacks.

“Picture this: the electric plant which supplies 70% of electricity to the Palestinians in Gaza is in Ashkelon. The Palestinians in Gaza have been shooting kassam rockets at the plant ever since the ‘disengagement’ i.e. the abandonment of Gush Katif [Gaza]. Now, Palestinians are crying that they don't have enough electricity. They are complaining about Israeli sanctions against them. They are going to the U.N.

The truth is, Israel has not stopped supplying electricity to Gaza. Not only that, but Israeli electric company employees are risking their lives to do so.

Mickey Tsarfati, head of the union of electrical workers, was quoted in YNet: ‘It is unbelievable chutzpah for them to complain. We have not stopped supplying them with electricity for a minute. And they have not stopped logging bombs at us for a minute.’ Many of the workers who fix the lines to Gaza daily are residents of Sderot. It has happened more than once that bombs fell next to their homes as they were fixing the lines to supply electricity to the bombers.

Now the U.N. and the Quartet, and the Arab League are all getting demands to stop Israeli ‘sanctions’ against the Gazans…. You tell me what other country would be supplying electricity to people who are bombing their children on a daily basis, and risking their lives to do so.”

Lirun of East Med Sea Peace is concerned with the humanitarian implications of the crisis and suggests a way that Israelis can help provide food for Gazans.

“heard it on the radio this morning.. apparently on saturday morning a convoy of cars will be driving to gaza to pass on some supplies to the gazastanis.. who as you probably all now know are languishing in starvation and darkness.. because apparently nothing short of that could bring the rocket fire to an end..

people who want to drive down and donate flour sugar and rice should be at the arlozorov train station no later than 8 am and the reading bus depot no later than 830am..

i hate the qassam rockets just as much as the next guy.. and as far as i am concerned the hamas and co are collectively punishing a whole region of israel for israel not conforming to hamas’ demands.. however – people are starving in gaza and dying of hypothermia because of the measures we are taking and i cant accept that.. “

Meanwhile, Elliot Chodoff of Mideast On Target leaves us with suggestions for Israel's leadership.

“What can be done in the meantime? First, the Israeli leadership needs to conclude that while inaction under the circumstances is bad, improper action is worse. The Gaza population need not be provided with everything its heart desires, but allowing the creation of the image of a humanitarian disaster is counterproductive, especially when the image is false. Second, military activity needs to be stepped up, not only in quantity, but in quality. We have seen early indicators that this is occurring over the past two weeks, but if Sederot and its surroundings are to have any hope of weathering the rocket rainfall of this winter, the IDF will have to operate more intensively in Gaza until the weather permits the extensive operation that will be sure to occur sooner or later. It is high time the Israeli leadership stopped making declarations and starting taking effective action.”

Learn More–

You can learn more about the reactions of the Arab blogosphere from these Global Voices Online authors:

Your Reactions–

After you have read reactions from the Israeli blogosphere in this post and opinions from Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan from my colleagues, come back here and let us know what you think about the whole situation. What are your reactions reading the voices of those whose lives have been touched on both sides of the border? What do you see as possible solutions? What do you think your country would have done when faced with similar threats from its neighbors?

I look forward to learning from your perspective.

  • Standing with Gaza

    Israel is a racist, apartheid state, and the collective punishment it inflicts upon Palestinians is totally indefensible.

    The idea that Israel’s siege of Gaza is somehow being covered in a one sided way is absurd. Gazans have been suffering under Israeli barbarism for months, years, decades.

    Palestinian resistance will not end until the Zionist abomination is gone, and we have a secular, democratic Palestine for everyone — Jews, Muslims, Christians, whoever. Until then: free Palestine! Long live the intifada!

  • David

    The only way to handle this situation is for pragmatic pressure to be exerted on the arab population of Judea & Samaria and the Gaza strip. All communications, all supplies , humanitarian and otherwise should immediately cease. To hell with UN resolutions, to hell with European opinion. Just watch how fast the arab population will rise up and topple Hamas and Abbas just as they did in the Soviet Union and European east block. This will leave a void of power, can that be any worse than now ?

  • http://zozo2k3.blogspot.com/ Yazan Badran

    Maya,
    I find it appalling to compare the primitive rockets fired from Gaza [noting that, I, in no way condone them. And me having a staunch anti-Hamas position] with the IDF’s incursions, and responses, and abilities. And again with this disgusting collective punishment of Gazans. Moreover, it will only help intensify the bitterness and frustration that Hamas feeds on, in the first place.

    The people of Sedrot, have their right to live in Peace, but who exactly is planning to give these rights to Gazans? or maybe to the choking palestinian villages in the west bank and east jerusalem?

  • http://TheNewJew.wordpress.com Maya Norton

    Standing with Gaza,

    I don’t think that view has gotten any of us anywhere so far. I’d like to try another way.

    Are you up for trying something else or is Israel’s destruction your only goal? Do you see any other options?

    Maya

  • http://TheNewJew.wordpress.com Maya Norton

    Dear Yazan,

    There’s nothing primitive about a weapon that causes death and destruction. The purpose of a weapon is to destroy and if it accomplishes that mission, it succeeds in its goal, primitive or not.

    Why is it Israel’s place to “give rights” to the Gazans? Shouldn’t the government of Gaza, democratically elected by the people, be the ones who are in charge of that? Isn’t that the government’s purpose? And what about Gaza’s allies and border with Egypt? Israel is not the only one responsible for the health and welfare of the people of Gaza and any portrayal of it as such is inaccurate.

    What evidence does Israel have that changes in East Jerusalem or the West Bank will change international relations? It didn’t for Gush Katif [Gaza].

    I am not saying that Israel’s actions are right or wrong, but hearing everyone’s perspectives, I don’t see solutions for a viable alternative right now. So I ask you: as you see it, what should Israel do that would bring an end to the bombings? What options are there?

    Thanks for your comment, Yazan.

    Maya

  • nomad

    This is a more straightforward issue than people make it out to be. If I moved into your house, shifted you into the back room and removed your priveledges, stole your fruit tree and prevented you from leaving, or if you ever left prevented you from returning, would you fight me?

    This is the only reason Isreal is being fought. If they did not steal people’s lands, move thousands of Jews into palestine and move hundreds of thousands of their lands years ago, there would be no fight.

    People just refuse to study the history. Why not do some research on where this issue started if you want to be fair and have the full picture.

  • Jason Paz

    When the UN allowed the US to wage a preemptive war in Iraq, it sanctioned an illegal and destructive act. God is punishing the Americans with economic ruin.
    When Israel removed forcibly the Israelis from Gush Katif, God made Ari Sharon a vegetable and killed 23 of his henchmen.
    Since the Gazans waged preemptive war, God has punished them with food, fuel and medical shortfalls.
    Whether or not God was the perpetrator, the circumstances remind us that we human beings must accept responsibility for our acts. We must think through the consequences of our actions.

  • Pastor William F Burroughs

    The world and its humanistic viewpoint cannot provide advice to Israel. They must respond and protect their own peace and way of life. Those in Gaza have a resolute dedication to the destruction of Israel, for them peace using peaceful means is impossible. The Bible tells us in Genesis 16 the sons of Ishmael and Israel will never deal with them intellectually, they will have to be shown forcefully that they must act in a humane way to be treated in a humane way.
    This may sound harsh and cruel, but only when Israel has taken stern measures have they found any relief, look at the record.

  • http://TheNewJew.wordpress.com Maya Norton

    Hi Nomad,

    I’m saying to you the same thing that I said to Standing with Gaza above because your arguments amount to the same end. So where do we go from here?

    Don’t tell me that is the only reason because if land possession was the only issue, then Israel’s evacuation of Gaza would have had an impact– it didn’t.

    In my opinion, sticking to a pre-1948 argument is an absolute dead end. I don’t see any other group in the world being held to those standards, except maybe China and Tibet (which is a whole different package).

    If you want to talk about history, let’s talk about what happened in ’67 when the borders Israel holds now were established. You think Israel set out to conquer that territory in a move of Manifest Destiny? No way. If the Palestinians were dead set on a state, then why let Israel stop you? Why not go after it with every political alliance possible? As you can see from the timeline below, it didn’t quite happen that way.

    Wikipedia’s Israeli history timeline from 1948 (I’m using a standard source. Here’s the link.)

    1948: the UN votes to establish the State of Israel. The same day, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq attack. Jordan conquers the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt gets Gaza (when’s the last time you called Egypt a colonial occupier?)

    1967: Egypt, Jordan, and Syria attack Israel. Israel wins, conquering Gaza, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Sinai.

    1973: Egypt and Syria attack Israel on its holiest day of the year. Israel beats them back, but suffers drastic serious casualties.

    1979: Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty in which Israel gives Sinai to Egypt in return for a cessation of violence.

    (I’m skipping the details about Lebanon since Gaza is a separate issue.)

    1987: First Intifada begins.

    1992: Israel and the PLO sign the Oslo Accords giving the PA government of parts of Gaza and the West Bank in return for a recognition of Israel’s existence and stopping terrorism. (The signing of the Accords lead to waves of attack from the Palestinians.)

    1999: Camp David Accords– Israel offers Palestine the establishment of a full self governing state. Arafat refuses. Second Intifada begins.

    2005: Israel fully withdraws from Gaza.

    (2006: Second Lebanon War)

    Nov. 2007: Olmert and Abbas hold Annapolis talks aiming to reach a full two-state solution by the end of 2008 (similar to the 1992 discussion 15 years early)

    So that’s my study of history on the most basic level. Here’s the research and studying you requested for a fair and full picture. I’m not claiming, as you are, that there’s anything straightforward about it, but I’m not assuming that those who disagree with me are ignorant either. It’s far more complex than that.

    Maya

  • Sarfaraz

    Please consider the death toll comparison on both sides before reaching to a conclusion.

    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html

    The Palestinian actions are nothing but symbolic in comparison to massacres perpetuated by Israel if you analyse the stats. You can’t hope you will make someone happy by giving $5 while you have stolen $50000 from him. So giving up Gaza and simultaneously killing children and civilians in other parts of Palestine makes the resistance legitimate.

    Coming back to the question, I would prefer to fight against my own country if it is responsible for the deaths and sufferings of millions of people for decades like Israel.

    Now my question is: What will you do if you are kicked out of your country and subjected to sufferings and killings Palestinians had undergone in the last 50 years?

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