Tragic clash, complex causes, but Israel can do much to defuse situation
Tuesday’s front-page article, “Chaos and carnage at Gaza border,” describes the latest heartbreaking events on Gaza’s border with Israel, which have accelerated over the past several weeks. Monday’s tragic outcome was spurred by a dangerous combination of a number of factors: desperation over Gaza’s miserable living conditions; the celebratory 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, juxtaposed against its bitter Palestinian counterpart, the “Nakba”; Hamas’s provocation of its Gazan constituents; and the culmination of Trump’s misguided decision to relocate the US embassy in Jerusalem, a hard face-slap felt by all Palestinians.
Barring a change in direction, many more lives could be lost at the border fence, and elsewhere, by protesters with little to lose. While Hamas’s authoritarian regime bears its share of blame for Gaza’s residents’ distress, it’s also clear that Israel’s effective control over so many aspects of the lives and livelihoods of that territory’s 2 million inhabitants has had a devastating effect, leading to the kind of hopelessness that drives young men and women to face death as an option preferable to the status quo.
Israel needs to take immediate and significant steps to release its stranglehold on Gaza; it can do so while also maintaining reasonable security measures. Such action, right now, might avert future calamities like this week’s. But whether it succeeds in calming the current crisis or not, it’s the right, and long overdue, thing to do.
Hamas is fueling this fire
Jeff Jacoby’s column provides needed context for events happening at the Gaza-Israel border (“What Palestinians can learn from the Jews,” Ideas, May 13). The terror organization Hamas is directing and fueling the so-called protests there and has titled the action the “March of Return.” This explicit use of the word “return” refers to the intention that the Palestinian people will seize and settle — or in their terms, reclaim — all of the land of Israel. Their goal of settling millions of Palestinians — 1948 refugees and their many generations of descendants — in Israel would result in the state of Israel disappearing into a greater Palestinian state.
These are not, as many prefer to believe, peaceful protests expressing a longing for a better life. In fact, recent events, such as the Palestinians’ destruction of the gas lines that supply fuel for their own population’s use, put the lie to that notion, as does their destruction of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which only further restricts Gazans’ access to needed goods and services.
Further, their efforts at breaking through the border fence and setting parts of Israel ablaze in order to march to Jerusalem have been far from peaceful.
No country would tolerate — or be expected to tolerate — such aggression.
Horrified by loss of Palestinian lives
As a Jew and an American, I am horrified and heartbroken about the devastating loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza. The misguided policies of the Trump administration, which led to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, are incendiary and wreaking havoc on all peace efforts.
The Globe’s coverage has done little to acknowledge the complexity of the issues affecting the situation. It’s important to recognize the peacemakers on all sides, including the thousands of US Jews and Israelis seeking an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and, likewise, the many committed Palestinians involved in working for a peaceful resolution.
As Ramadan is beginning, I urge my fellow Jews and non-Jews to reach out across the things that would divide us, listen to each other’s pain, and work together toward creating a better world.