Monday, January 8, 2007

The Secret War of Words

On Friday the 29th of December Noam Shalit published a letter to his son in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

"We in the family, your mother, your father, Hadas and Yoel, hope you feel well and are managing despite the tough conditions, the winter and the difficult situation you have been in for over six months. My Gilad, we miss you very, very much and want to see you with us and hug you tight, and so does the whole family and all your friends from school. We hope it will be very soon."

The letter is addressed to his son Gilad, a soldier in the Israeli army who was captured by gun-wielding Palestinians on June 26th. Two fellow soldiers were killed during the attack on the military base at the borders of Gaza, which serves to seal the borders of Gaza from the outside world.

Thousands of Palestinians, men, women and children are imprisoned in Israeli prisons and the Shalit family’s concerns are paralleled by thousands of unknown Palestinian mothers, fathers and brothers and sisters. The difference is that these Palestinians do not have a voice. This voice that Noam has to speak out on behalf of his son, a voice that is heard, is a luxury unknown to the common woman and man on the streets of Palestine.

"The fact that we don't know how you are, how you feel, how you are making it through the winter, and how the Palestinian organizations holding you are treating you, is very hard for us. They declare that you are a prisoner of war, but unfortunately, they are preventing you from receiving the rights to which you are entitled as a prisoner of war according to international law."

On December 31st the Israeli National News (Arutz Sheva) reported the following,
“Bracing for improved Qassam rockets with a firing range of 20 km the IDF is expanding the danger zone surrounding Gaza by a further 13 km, nearly three times wider than currently. The plan includes the fortification of schools and strategic sites in cities including Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim that lie within the new boundaries at the cost of NIS 1.4 billion (US $331.8 million).”

To the world’s eye, no mention is made of the Israeli artillery used freely at the borders of Gaza. The same fathers, mothers and children that do not have the stage on which to raise their voice to place the spotlight on their imprisoned loved ones, do not have the right to set up a security zone to protect them from the adversary firing at them and their homes with U.S.-made tanks and F-16s. In the latest Israeli incursion into Beit Hanoun in Northern Gaza, not one journalist was allowed into the area to witness the truth of the carnage taking place there. Within days humanitarian agencies began the process of making livable again this city of rubble. Two weeks later the remaining ruins and the minaret of a 15th Century mosque were removed and the massacre of 17 members of one family was swept under the carpet of history by way of a proclaimed technical error.

What is taking place is a secret war of words.