Monday, February 12, 2007

Returning to Gaza

Last night I drove back into Gaza. It feels so strange somehow, this world that was filled with war has suddenly turned back to normal. Jamal explained that he witnessed the hardest days of his life during the past weeks in Gaza, “black days” he called them. Mohamed, my neighbor explained to me that after Abu Mazen’s announcement from Mecca that a unity government had been formed, old Hamas and Fatah rivals were greeting each other on the streets as if nothing had ever occurred. Something did.

A university was used to stockpile large amounts of weapons which was then later attacked, the electricity company in Gaza City was burned down, one family near where I live had to leave their home after bullets ripped through a window and tore into their furniture only minutes after their young daughter had been trying to follow the activities on the street below.

In a recent article Jonathan Kuttab explains what might lead to such madness. All this only starts to make sense when one has lived here and seen day in and day out the weight over occupation, the stagnation of a life lacking so many freedoms that I have taken for granted most of my life.

Judge Guzman , who has been visiting Israel these past days is a Chilean judge who tired to prosecute Pinochet until the day he died on February 10th 2004. This is one of the observations he made,

"I identify with the Israelis, but my heart is with the people living under occupation and whose rights are being violated. Israel feels it is the victim of terror, but when you are here, you realize that what the Palestinians are doing is resisting occupation. The Palestinians are the victims, they are being exploited, their homes are being demolished, they are being detained under administrative orders, their property is being damaged, they need permits to move from place to place and their cities are becoming large prisons. There is no doubt they are the victims."

Pinochet was spared prosecution mainly because time and time again he was considered mentally unstable to stand trial. I wonder at times if Israel similarly is able to avoid trial excused by a national trauma the Jewish people have suffered in the past.