A path to peace

Rita Gochberg

These last weeks I’ve been watching the Israeli crisis with the rest of the world. On Dec. 27 Israel launched a military operation in Gaza in response to 329 rockets and mortar shells that were fired into Israel in the preceding six months and about 6,000 rockets over the last five years that targeted Israel’s civilian population.

I’m an Israeli citizen, served in the Israeli army and followed my country through its ups and downs. I praised it, criticized it and was proud and ashamed of it, but I always loved it. Living in a true democracy makes it possible to feel and express those emotions freely. Criticizing and questioning should be the right and obligation of every person living in every country.

Many people asked me how I felt about the recent developments in the situation, and my response is that in order to really understand what it’s like, you need to be Israeli.

To be Israeli is to turn on your television and find out that another terror attack took place. It is to hope that no one you know was there, to be happy you don’t and then ashamed that you were happy. It is to understand that when they say on TV that “there are casualties,” they really mean “there are dead people” and that “critically wounded” means “fighting for their lives.” To be an Israeli is to say “This could not keep going on like that,” but be afraid it will.

Several accusations were made in the media about Israel that I would like to address. The first one is that Israel attacked with a disproportional force causing the number of casualties on the Palestinian side to be greater than on the Israeli side.

The question everyone should ask is what number of dead Israelis will be sufficient? When does Israel get to say enough? Or do we wait until more of our women and children are dead to justify self-defense? Hamas lives by the dogma that says, “If you don’t like your neighbors, kill them and terrorize them until you dominate them.”

The second claim is that Israel prevents aid from entering Gaza. If you look past the propaganda, there is monitored data. During the Israeli operation in Gaza, 37,159 tons of humanitarian aid on 1,503 trucks were transferred into Gaza; 1,535,750 liters of heavy-duty diesel for the Gaza power station; 234 tons of gas for domestic use; 3,896 tons of grain; 30 ambulances – and the list goes on.

On Feb. 3 and 5, Hamas militants stole, at gunpoint, 10 truckloads of food and rice, 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels from a United Nations distribution center, causing a UN response that it will stop the flow of aid into Gaza.

I believe the Palestinians deserve to live in peace – I believe that Hamas, the government they elected, is doing them a disservice to get there. Hamas is standing in their way to get to peace.

To be Israeli is something to be proud of. Israel is my home, not because I have no other, but because it is my home!

Rita Gochberg is a senior interior design major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.