Israel tends to bombard Gaza a little extra every couple of years, making siege trendy—literally. The exercise in genocide that is “Operation Protective Edge” had more than an edge on Gaza, Rafah, and Khan Yunus. While the operation had eight temporary ceasefires, this 51 day operation according to the Guardian concluded that “more than 2,100 people have been killed, most of them civilians, including about 500 children.” The injured reached a staggering 11,000 most of which are severely injured with little hope of recovering. Along with societal damage came the destruction of over 17,000 homes, leaving families to seek refuge in schools, mosques, and crumbling factories.On August 26, 2014, a permanent ceasefire and end to the operation was released.
To the world’s surprise, (after a last-minute attempt to scorn Hamas by equivocating them to ISIS) Bibi and his associates along with Egyptian officials finally came to an agreement. Although there is speculation as to whether this final truce will even be final, for many Palestinians, and those specifically in Gaza celebrated this victory. The strength and resilience of Palestinians in Gaza has proven to be unprecedented, taking into account that Operation Protective Edge was seen as way worse than Operation Cast Lead of 2008-2009.
Norwegian doctor Dr. Mads Gilbert witnessed Operation Cast Lead saying Gaza remained “shattered” and besieged. This was just five years ago, yet Gaza has not recovered and Israel does not wish for it to. In a letter to the US President, Dr. Gilbert expressed the dire situation Gaza was facing (because of constant bombardment and siege) with lack of medical supplies, overflow of patients, brutal fatalities and actual bombing of Al-Shifa hospital where he was stationed. He described the hospital life in simple, but excruciating detail: “Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! Not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling [sic] the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away … to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hrs…” This kind of testimony should have shaken the Oval Office. Dr. Gilbert wrote this on July twentieth, but the bombing had to continue, and it did for another month. The doctors of Gaza were heavily tested, and they truly represent the heroism that is behind the scenes of the infamous Hamas and the resistance movement itself.
This operation woke up activists all over the world. There was simply no way for Israel to cover up its atrocities. All throughout the operation, pro-Palestine activists all over the world took to the streets, and as Gaza supported full resistance, so did protestors. The need to change the status quo is the main goal. Gaza refused to settle for the status quo by accepting points from Israel that would only keep the status quo intact. What Hamas is asking for is simple, as any other person would in Gaza, to left the siege, release prisoners, allow medical and building supplies in, and to open ports for fishing. Israelis and their supporters could no longer hide behind Hamas boogieman pretext when the IDF deliberately targeted Gaza’s only power plant, UN schools, factories, and of course the hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The IDF are supposed to be the most moral army in the world, yet they do not have ethics in war (yes, there are ethics).
Although Hamas was able to land some missiles into Tel Aviv and surrounding areas bordering the Gaza Strip, there is no equivalence to the might of the IDF who came back stronger. From the outside looking into Gaza we saw the IDF target residential buildings and high rise towers like the fifteen story Basha Tower and twelve story “Zafir 4” Tower, leaving many to pitch tents around the complex’s they once called home and work. According to KRQE 13 news, “On the Israeli side, 69 people have been killed, all but four of them soldiers.
Thousands of Israelis living near Gaza have fled their homes, including in recent days when Gaza militants stepped up mortar fire on southern Israel.” While this is true, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada states the undermining truth that even though over 3,000 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, “the number, which is supposed to sound impressive and justify the attack on Gaza, is actually minuscule compared with the volume of ordnance Israel fires into Gaza.” The title of the original Electronic Intifada article “How Many Bombs Has Israel Dropped on Gaza?” is the question activists on the Palestinian side are asking as well now that the war is over, and ceasefire agreements are being settled. But the next question is, “What did Israel achieve with Operation Protective Edge?”
From the Israeli side, there was little accomplished in this operation. In fact, it backfired on Israeli public relations and politics. In the beginning, Netanyahu had to incite violence and rage among Israeli citizens so that he could get support for the operation. This worked, however while Bibi was busy trying to convince the world that Hamas was the bad guy, a majority of Gaza (the more and more it was bombed) turned to Hamas as their only source of resistance. And rightfully so, because in reality, if Palestinians in Gaza resist, they are bombed, if they do not, they are still bombed. And it was this turning point that Gaza had, (besides already being notoriously resistant) to completely support resistance, and continue it instead of surrender to pity talks and peace agreements that only bit them.
We only hope that the final ceasefire declaration is not the same as the Oslo accords, or that of 2012. Another factor that may have been one of the causes for Bibi to agree to ceasefire was overwhelming pressure from Israeli citizens, who have been suffering from sirens, wondered whether Gaza was even worth going into the first place. The Israeli economy may have also taken a toll, since an operation in the summer prevented vacation goers. From the Palestinian side and for anyone visiting the West Bank, it made a difficult return to the United States from Ben Gurion.
Hamas resistance has indeed made a dent in the solid stance that Israel had against Gaza. When IDF were released, some estimate 10-40,000 reserves for ground operation, resistance forced them out, but the IDF themselves could not handle casualties. Bibi is well aware of how Gaza reacts to ground invasions; he knew it would end being an all-out bloodbath if the IDF had to face Hamas and other resistance rebels in man-to-man combat. So for that reason, the IDF returned to drone operations, extensive mortar attacks, and shelling.
As Gaza suffered each blow, twitter accounts from citizens in Gaza were loud. Farah Baker, a 16 year old girl from Gaza, live tweeted all the events, and one tweet particular made twitter world anxious: “my house is jumping and shaking” then followed with the popular hashtag “Gaza Under Attack.” Farah has tweeted every chance she could get, along with many others including doctors and journalists. After ceasefire was announced, the Gaza twitter world flooded with celebration tweets, and videos from crowds cheering. Palestinians held up what looks like a peace sign, however it was “V” for victory. Farah also said that she did not want to live to see a “fourth war,” and seeing that she has already lived through three, it will come to no surprise if Israel decided to have another operation against Gaza. Now we are left to settle with this eerie fact, all while trying to enjoy the little light, and little sense of relief for Gaza for the months (and hopefully years) to come.