While having my morning coffee, I read the news that “IDF’s ‘largest-ever project’ ever will see construction of concrete wall above and below ground, in bid to thwart Hamas attack tunnels”.
The underground barrier is something we have been waiting for for a long time. It is important and it will give us a sense of security against the fear that a terrorist with a machine gun will pop up in the middle of our community. In fact, we were promised it at the end of Operation Protective Edge at the end of August 2014. We were promised that the soldiers protecting the homes of those of us who live jogging distance from tunnel-openings, would not be withdrawn until the underground barrier was built. Unfortunately in January 2015, the soldiers were sent to “more important” missions, while we were left with the promises.
I was relieved when talk renewed about funding for the underground barrier a few months ago. However I had never heard talk about an above ground wall, out here in the Western Negev, in the Gaza Envelope. You many be surprised to hear that this upsets me, really.
We have seen the effect of the wall on the other side of the country. On the one hand, it has lowered terrorist infiltration drastically. But on the other hand, it has caused anger and animosity among people who live on the other side of the wall — people who do NOT ALL want to kill us, really they don’t. An imposing, looming wall makes many statements. But where are the statements that the statesmen and women are supposed to be making? Where are the efforts to solve the problems that initiate the wars and the necessity for barriers and walls?
I wish our governments were putting more emphasis on solving the problem rather than changing our views, scarring our fields with incongruous cement monstrosities erupting from our soil, scarring our land. Yes — it will keep our field workers and the soldiers protecting me, out of the gun sites of Hamas snipers on the other side. Those people are dear to me. They are my neighbors; they are my relatives. They are my sons and daughters. They were my husband. But nothing like that will protect us from the rockets that scarred our homes, our psyches and our hearts; that murdered our loved ones. The rocket shooters know where we live — they don’t need to see us. Nothing like that will even scratch the source of the problem.
I wish our government were putting more emphasis on enabling the entire situation to change, for Gazans to have lives and livelihoods that would enable us to be good neighbors. But the scenery from my home will be changed drastically, from seeing the sun set over the mosque at Han Yunis, to that of an ugly block of cement. As will their scenery of a beautiful green country, where live people who could potentially be good neighbors, who could bring opportunities for commerce and relief from the open-air prison which is Gaza, rather than furthering the isolation, hate and animosity.
So build the wall; deface our fields and our physical horizon if that is what the military feel will best keep us safe. As people around here describe it: “Reinforcing ourselves to distraction” (ממגנים את אצמנו לדעת). But please demonstrate just as vociferously what other actions are being vigorously, tenaciously pursued. Please make know what is being done to provide hope for our political horizon for a better future.
As did Robert Frost, I sincerely question the statement made by his neighbor, who continued to insist on stubbornly sticking to the ways of his fathers before him; his predecessors who taught him that “Good fences make good neighbors.” I say: interaction, talks, agreements, understandings. THAT is what will make good neighbors. What are we doing to get us there? What are the Palestinians doing to get us there? Our mutual non-doing is taking the “easy” way out…..the politically popular and more familiar (less creative) way out…. by building more walls.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…..
Yep. I can see those “somethings”….
If you wish to read more about what it is like living on the border with the Gaza Strip, you can follow me on Facebook, join the FB group I moderate: Life on the Border and “like” The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev.
I am also happy to be in contact via Twitter @AdeleRaemer