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 because to my child’s ear, it sounded like an abbreviation for “Azazel,” Hell. I thought Aza was Hell, and I 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. Hungry, wide-eyed children.
So desperate is it there 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 thriving Jewish community in Gaza, so as to take a first step toward an independent Palestinian state. When the Israelis left, they left behind a 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. Hamas 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 by international bodies and diligently developed 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 visits calculated disaster upon their own communities. Recently, it attacked Kerem Shalom, the border crossing through which Israel sends Gaza humanitarian aid.
During the last Israel-Gaza war, I visited Kibbutz Alumim in southern Israel. If not for a thin 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 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 storming the border —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 called for crossing the border so as to reach and rip the hearts out of Jewish bodies — sorry, but a protest it was not. This was a premeditated, armed, attempted invasion of a sovereign state with the express intention to kill and kidnap Israeli citizens. This was war.
IDF 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 the Hamas charter’s call to destroy Israel. Yet even if the moral clarity is with Israel, which it is, a situation 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. And those paying the most devastating price for the media’s misguided moral confusion are the 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, quite the opposite was true. The only ones celebrating the deaths in Gaza was Hamas itself. Its mission was accomplished, the international media rising to the bait like Pavlovian dogs.
Rejoicing in death is antithetical to Israeli and Jewish culture. No mainstream reaction like that has ever transpired. 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 its stones.
By contrast there are the well 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 U.N. 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 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 in Gaza. Of the IDF soldiers being sent into Hell. Because after all these years of Hamas rule, it seems that my childlike misunderstanding was sadly right after all. Aza truly is Azazel.
Copyright Intermountain Jewish News