In the past week, terrorism from the Gaza Strip has escalated very quickly with intense daily attacks by Hamas operatives against IDF soldiers and the launching of dozens of incendiary balloons and rocket fire – some of which that even reached central Israel, hitting home and injuring 7 family members including infants.
I have to note that this is all part of a gradual escalation in recent couple of months that also saw daily attacks against soldiers every night and rockets that were fired to Tel-Aviv.
For a year now terrorists come every Friday to the border fence in hope to take it down and storm Israeli communities with the intention to carry out attacks. So this last weekend was supposed to be a climatic day of violence, but it wasn’t as bad partly because of pressure put on Hamas, and partly because of the IDF’s preparation. But still, at night, 5 rockets were fired to Israel.
Following the escalation I talked with residents to share their thoughts of recent events, in order to give my readers a sense of what it was like.
“We feel like we were left behind”, said Ariel, resident of Sderot. “They [Israeli government] promise to take bold actions against terrorism, and that the IDF will be prepared and will not tolerate any acts of terrorism, yet we still see that the incendiary balloons, bombs and fear will continue in the near future”, he added.
Ariel continued by saying that “There is also a sense of shame, after hearing that Israel will grant them some ‘ease’. I think they forgot who they are dealing with and that you can’t actually make deals with terrorists”, he concluded.
In light of the coming elections and President Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, which brought the topic of a second disengagement from Judea and Samaria to Israeli public discourse, I decided to ask him about it.
“There is a connection between the disengagement from Gaza to recent events. Since then the situation here became worse and it motivated them to fight against us and it only escalated since then”, said Ariel, who added “I think that talk about any agreement should start only after the terror ends completely. And if what it takes is ending all Hamas operatives than that it is what needs to be done. I’m against pulling out from Judea and Samaria. If there is other possible agreements [without disengagement] I’m supportive”.
Yuval, a resident of a small town in the so-called Gaza envelope who holds a BA in Middle-East Studies, said: “The escalation increased the anxiety in the area. On Saturday we went to my grandmother’s house. She is disabled and she doesn’t have a bomb-proof room”, Yuval said painfully. “We didn’t hear any rocket alarms but we did hear loud explosions. It increased our anxiety. What can elderly and disabled people do in this situation?”, Yuval asked. “We can’t get grandma to a safe place on time”.
I asked Yuval too, about the disengagement from Gaza and the possibility of a disengagement from Judea and Samaria. “I think the Gaza disengagement made the Gaza envelope the forefront and allowed Hamas gain power, and made the launch of rockets and mortars easier”, she explained before adding “Judea and Samaria are crucial for the safety of the center of Israel. Disengagement will turn the center to another ‘envelope’ and even worse”.
I then reached out to Avi from Tel-Aviv. “The situation has to change. The more we allow them [Hamas] to do what they want in the ‘envelope’ they become more daring against the rest of the country”, Avi said. “Some people here don’t really get it. I saw there was a protest near Azrieli Saturday night someone there said that the IDF soldiers are terrorists. That is not okay! Do they have any clue what Hamas are doing?”, he asked angrily.
So I asked Avi about the disengagement and a possibility of another one. “Obviously it was a mistake to pull out of Gaza. Not only it validated their delusions that terror will help them conquer lands it allowed them to fire here [Tel-Aviv] and dig tunnels”, he said. “If we leave Judea and Samaria same will happen here. Dozens of rockets on Tel-Aviv each escalation, riots and attacks against soldiers in the new border every weekend. Tunnels underneath Tel-Aviv to be used to carry out mass shootings against civilians”, he said.
It seems that to them and others I talked with, the disengagement from Gaza was a turning point for the worse, and a possible disengagement from Judea and Samaria will be just as bad, if not worse.