If you’re wondering what it’s like to live in Israel during Operation Protective Edge, this piece should hopefully give you a pretty good picture. Here’s my Mic debut, titled “These Images Sum Up the Mood in Israel Right Now,” about the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
I sent over my latest blog post and not only was it accepted at Times of Israel, but they invited me to become a TOI blogger. Here it is, updated with the events that have unfolded since the operation began. Titled “Waiting for a final ceasefire,” I ask the question on many of our minds: What will bring a moderate, two-state oriented leadership to Gaza?
Any of your thoughts, comments, and shares would be most appreciated. Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to me since the operation began: hoping for it to end as soon as possible.
I may be a journalist, but I am not a fortune teller. This is why I am glad I did not appear on the BBC Friday evening: I did not expect Israel to launch a military offensive in Gaza, which it did this morning.
Early Friday afternoon, the BBC’s World Have Your Say TV program asked if I would like to speak on their show as the “Israeli journalist.” They were interviewing several journalists to fill this one slot, including me. For 10 minutes, a producer talked with me over the phone to get a sense of what I would say on the program.
The BBC journalist, sitting at a desk in London, asked me, “Do you think the violence will escalate?”
On Friday, the funeral of Mohammed Abu Khdeir — the Palestinian teen kidnapped, burned, and murdered as a possible “revenge killing” for the kidnap and murder of Israeli teens Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel by Hamas — was taking place in the East Jerusalem neighborhood where he lived. At that time, Jewish extremists were suspected of murdering Mohammad, and riots erupted near the funeral and in other areas around Israel in reaction to these allegations.
Meanwhile, five rockets and two mortar shells had hit Southern Israel from Gaza Friday morning. Since the IDF started Operation Brother’s Keeper to find the Israeli teens kidnapped on June 12 and to weaken Hamas, dozens of rockets from the Gaza strip had hit Israel. But many questioned whether Israel’s incursions, arrests of hundreds of Hamas operatives, and restrictions of movement in the West Bank and Gaza constituted “collective punishment” against the Palestinians, or were necessary to deter Hamas, whose terrorists were responsible for killing the three Israeli teens.
Yet, amidst all of this, there was talk about an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire possibly taking place.
This is the information I knew when the BBC called me early Friday afternoon.
So I told the British journalist, “Assuming that no other large, harmful incident takes place, I don’t think Israel will launch an operation in Gaza. It doesn’t have the international backing, and I don’t think it would be strategically wise.”
In the end, I did not appear on the show — and my predictions were wrong.
Early this morning, Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza, titled “Operation Protective Edge.” During the four days between the phone call and the present moment, scores of rockets have hit Southern Israel, including 100 in the last day alone. On Sunday, our worst nightmare was confirmed that Jewish extremists did kill Mohammad Abu Khdeir, burning him alive. Riots have ignited across the country. Now, it’s looking more like the beginning of a third intifada than a deescalation.
Strangely, a memory from Operation Pillar of Defense, the last time Israel started a military offensive in Gaza, gives me hope. On November 21, 2012, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding 15 people. This was the first bus bombing in Tel Aviv in more than six years.
The bombing occurred only a mile away from the Jerusalem Post’s office, where I was working. I immediately got calls from my partner to check if I was okay, and I wrote on Facebook that I was fine. Everyone called anyone they knew that could be close to the bombing, which was a lot of people. It reminded my Israeli colleagues of the horrific years during the second intifada.
I was really scared. Not only was the bus bombing close by, but it could also intensify the operation.
Instead, hours later, Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement, ending the eight-day operation. Both a bus bombing and a ceasefire occurred within the same day: That’s Israel for you.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can often feel intractable. It increasingly is.
But everything can change here in a moment, for the better or the worse. I just hope that this operation ends as quickly as possible and we can get back to the real work that needs to be done: making peace. Israeli President Shimon Peres almost made peace with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2011: I’m just waiting for that moment to come back.
Our worst fears have come true: Six Jewish extremists are suspected of kidnapping and murdering Palestinian teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir as a revenge killing for the kidnap and murder of Israeli teens Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali.
This disturbing turn of events makes me remember a powerful quote from the Laramie Project, a play about Matthew Shepard – who was killed for being gay – and his town’s response. “Someone got up there [at Matthew’s vigil] and said, ‘C’mon, guys, let’s show the world that Laramie is not this kind of a town.’ But it is that kind of a town. If it wasn’t this kind of a town, why did this happen here?… And we have to mourn this and we have to be sad that we live in a town, a state, a country where shit like this happens. .. I mean, these are people trying to distance themselves from this crime. And we need to own this crime. I feel. Everyone needs to own it. We are like this. We ARE like this. WE are LIKE this.”
Yes, Jews are like this too. So what are we going to do about it?
I was super flattered to see that Chris Schroeder, who wrote the groundbreaking book Startup Rising, compliment my most recent PolicyMic piece about women entrepreneurs in the Middle East. His book, which came out in August 2013, describes the tech revolution bubbling all over the MENA region.
Here’s the Tweet love fest:
— Chris Schroeder (@cmschroed) April 3, 2014
Thanks again Chris for the Twitter love!
After a long absence, I’m back to reporting! I wrote a piece about a very cool company called Water-Gen that has managed to create drinkable water from air. Here’s the piece, titled “In Major Breakthrough, an Israeli Company Has Created Water Out of Thin Air.”
It’s thankfully getting a lot of positive response so far. Almost 500 shares (March 14)!
*Update: Now there have been more than 1,100 shares (March 17)!
I look forward to writing more about Israeli tech, and am open to suggestions. Are there any technologies or companies you think I should know about?