By Noam Sheizaf
Even today – when rockets are exploding above the city I love most in the world – even now, I oppose this military operation wholeheartedly.
I would still like to believe that this whole thing is a misunderstanding, and that if my own people would only give some more thought to the reality in the occupied territories, they would change their minds overnight. I want to believe that they don’t fully grasp the nature of the occupation, which is why they are so enraged by whatever the Palestinians do. This mindset leads to yet another violent Israeli response, which only paves the way for the next escalation. I do not know if this line of thinking is more naïve or more patronizing on my part, but what other explanations are there?
I keep running into Israelis who don’t know, for example:
- That we still control Allenby Bridge (which connects the West Bank to Jordan)
- And with it each entrance and exit of every Palestinian into the West Bank
- That the Israeli Defense Force still operates in Area A, supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority
- That there is no 3G network in the West Bank because Israel doesn’t permit the Palestinian cellular providers to use the necessary frequencies
- That we imprison hundreds of Palestinians without trial for months and years
- Or any other factual, undeniable aspect of the occupation.
If all this is unknown, then perhaps this is all just a big misunderstanding.
Most of the time I try to correct misconceptions and argue over such details, but if I had to explain the whole thing briefly, I would use the following metaphor:
We’ve built two giant prisons. Let’s call them “West Bank Prison” and “Gaza Prison.”
The West Bank Prison is similar to a minimum-security facility, where prisoners get to run their own affairs as long as they behave. They are entitled to vacations from time to time, and once a year they are even taken to the beach. Some lucky people get below-minimum-wage jobs in nearby factories, and when you consider the low prices in the prison canteen, it’s actually not a bad deal.
Gaza, on the other hand, is a maximum-security facility. It is difficult to visit and impossible to leave. We allow in essential food, water, and electricity so that the prisoners don’t die. Apart from that, we don’t really care about them—that is unless they approach the prison fence, or the “forbidden” perimeter, where anyone who wanders too close is shot, or if they try to throw something over the fence.
The prison facilities now hold a total of 3.5 million people—an entire nation—all sentenced to life. Under such conditions, prisoners can turn to desperate measures, such as suicide missions, digging long tunnels, or swimming miles and storming our tanks with their old rifles.