Gershon Baskin
Political and social entrepreneur activist in Israel and Palestine

What we see and what we don’t

Last night, one of my closest Palestinian friends who live in Sheikh Jarah in East Jerusalem called me crying: “Did you see what they did, they bombed a hospital in Gaza – so many dead children.” It was already late evening, I was zapping between the talking heads on Israel’s three main channels – and nada, no report, no pictures, no denial yet of any wrong doing.  Then there were news flashes and some windows of pictures from foreign news services.  Then the spinners got spinning and the Israeli channels produced all of the denials – no, it can’t be Israel. Then they started screening videos of rockets being fired from Gaza with one appearing to fall on the hospital – according to their claim. The experts sat around the studio and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Israel, it was Islamic Jihad. Many rockets from Gaza fall in Gaza. I got sick and tired of these television stations jumping to baseless conclusions and joking about Jihad and Hamas killing their own people while a genuine human tragedy was taking place just over the border.

I opened up some Palestinian and Arab news channels and saw the pictures from the other side. Heart wrenching scenes of carnage – there is no other way to describe it. Then came the scenes of the massive demonstrations of anger and pain from Ramallah, Amman, Istanbul and throughout the Arab and Islamic world. There will for sure be massive demonstrations all around Europe today and in Asia against Israel. There is no way that any human being can be neutral in viewing the human tragedy in Gaza. Just as I expected no human being to be neutral to the horrific terror attack on Israel on October 7, we cannot be obtuse to the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.

Before going to bed last night, I posted on my social media: The hit on the hospital in Gaza is a criminal act of war. Whoever did it, Israel as claimed by Palestinians, or Jihad as claimed by Israel, should admit their guilt. If it was intentional it is even more horrific.

This is a turning point in the war. The narrative has been set and no evidence brought by Israel will convince the Palestinian people, the Arab world, and much of the West that Israel did not do it. I have no way of knowing who did it. I have not seen Hamas or Jihad rockets with the fire power of the size of the explosion at the hospital that we saw on our TV screens. All of the talking heads on Israeli television refused to admit that Israeli precise bombings, the last world in the technology of death, can at times miss their target. What they did not say, is that sometimes they do, sometimes pilots make errors, sometimes the technology does not work and sometimes they are even given wrong targets to hit.

What was totally absent in the reporting in Israel was compassion. We demanded compassion from Palestinian citizens of Israel when Israel was brutally attacked and more than 1300 innocent victims were killed. We wanted to hear the compassion of the world. I know that Israel is traumatized by what happened on October 7, but have we lost our humanity as a result? The Palestinian people are our neighbors and will always be our neighbors.

My heart bleeds for all of the innocent victims of this conflict and this war. While I cannot see a scenario of this war ending with Hamas still in control of Gaza and posing an ongoing threat to Israel, I cannot tolerate the thought of how many more innocent victims will be in the path of removing Hamas. War is ugly, they say. War is much more than ugly. This must be the last war that we fight over this land. It is time that we begin to sanctify the people who live here and not the stones and symbols of our separate identities.

About the Author
The writer is the Middle East Director of ICO - International Communities Organization - a UK based NGO working in Conflict zones with failed peace processes. Baskin is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is also a founding member of “Kol Ezraheiha - Kol Muwanteneiha” (All of the Citizens) political party in Israel.