Friday, January 25

In case you didn't know, Israel has imposed a blockade on the residents on Gaza for a LONG time. The Israeli military strictly controls who and what is allowed in and out of Gaza. It's been like this for quite a while. Recently, militants from Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, blew holes in the wall separating the Gaza/Egypt border (there is a wall there put up by the Israeli government to prevent people from crossing directly into Egypt; first they pass Israeli checkpoints, then they come to the Egyptian border). You can read about it here and here as well, and how residents there bought everything from gas to livestock. There's a video of things here, and this is what the fallen wall looked like.

I can't even imagine what I would do in a similar situation. 1.5 million people live in the Gaza strip, an area of about 360 square miles. A foreign government determines that since some of the people from the Gaza strip fire rockets at its citizens, none of the people that live there are allowed freedom of movement. I think that if I lived there I'd be happy to get out for a while too. The linked article mentions how some people just wanted to be somewhere else for a little while; I think we don't appreciate how important it is to be able to travel when we'd like until the privilege is taken away.

One thing that I think about often when thinking of Gaza is a conversation I had with an Israeli friend here. He told me that the border between Gaza and Egypt is open, and that the Egyptians are the ones who won't allow Palestinians to cross the border. The Washington Post article seems to say differently; does he not know the reality of the situation there? Is the Israeli media not reporting this accurately, or is he just unaware? I wonder if most Israelis have any idea of what life is like for residents of Gaza. I understand the Israeli government's desire to protect its citizens, but even if you believe force is the answer, do you really think the best response is to punish 1.5 million people for the actions of a few? Even if we're not pacifists, I don't see how it's possible to rationalize collective punishment, especially on such a grand scale.


So what can I do about it?

We can contact our representatives in Congress and ask for two things:
1) Pressure Hamas to stop those carrying out rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, and,
2) Pressure Israel to respond to rocket attacks in ways that don't punish innocent civilians.

You can find your representative here. There's a tab on the right hand side where you can enter your zip and find out who your reps are and how to contact them.

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