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Gaza: Peace Or Pieces?

Deciding on war or peace

Published on 18 November 2012

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by Antony Karasulas



school shelter
school shelter

'Seva adom!, Seva adom!' The air raid alert goes out over the loud speakers, it's red alert, again. Soon there is a fast whooshing sound as the in-coming rocket goes over-head to it's random target, another woosh and an Iron Dome counter missile spirals it's way to the Hamas rocket. There is a huge puff of smoke and a shower of sparks. The boom and percussion soon follow. Another threat neutralised. But there will be more.

In Israel's south these alarms are common, recently several times a day. There are public bomb shelters all over, school bus stops have several, and many homes have their own. In theory everyone has access to a bomb shelter, but one wonders about the old and infirm. The time between the alert and the bang is short. Many don't attempt the run, and dive for other, less secure cover. When the explosion is near there are hysterical women and children who need comforting, and many stunned faces. It's the shock of it all, the nearness of one's mortality, and the feeling of disbelief that this is happening. This is not an ordinary existence. Schools are closed, Normality is disrupted. Many in the world press have been reporting Israeli 'aggression', but the scene just described precedes the current Israeli campaign in Gaza. In the south Israelis have been living with this on and off  for years,though recently the pace has hastened.

Today the normally peaceful, bucolic back roads in the south, near the Gaza border, are filled with tank transports, jeeps and armoured personal carriers. The threat of a ground incursion seems very real. One imagines that the IDF would welcome the chance to really root out the Hamas bases and missile sites, something difficult to fully achieve from the air alone. The political will to support such an action is certainly present. On the the other hand, Israel really would prefer peace. Though geared for war everyone speaks of hopes for a cease-fire, a return to peaceful and productive lives.

There are rumours that peace may break out. This morning the sounds of bombings has been noticeably less, though some rockets are still to be seen heading from Gaza into Israel. The prime ministers of several countries, Israel included, are seated and talking, looking for ways to put on the brakes. Hamas is typically expected to be intransigent, and the Israelis do not trust their word will be kept. It must never be forgotten, in the complex politics of the region, that there is a deep cultural difference at play here. Hamas is sworn to see the destruction of Israel, a state they do not recognise, and Israel is determined to survive at all costs. These are not compatible goals. But today the diplomatic effort to create some pretty complex political choreography will continue. So will the Israeli military build-up on the border.

If the IDF enters Gaza in a ground campaign there will be many casualties, on all sides. And Israel must also be concerned about getting bogged down there. There has been talk of exit strategies, as everyone knows the high risk of going into Gaza on foot and the chance of having great trouble getting out again. As the day progresses and the politicians talk, and the military moves it's tanks around and arms it's reservists, all breaths are being held, and all eyes are on the news. And many prayers are being said.

Antony Karasulas is a freelance writer currently on the Gaza border, following the military build-up. His interest is principally the human angle, in times of conflict and stress.


  • Antony Karasulas
  • Antony Karasulas (Freelance)
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Posted 2012-11-18 10:29:00