Gaza and Sderot are extras in the government’s horror show

Even the members of Netanyahu’s government acknowledge that what Israel is doing in Gaza is folly, yet there is no one to stop it. 

By Avi Dabush

Woman near shattered window caused by a Hamas rocket on July 15, 2014 in the town of Sderot, Israel. (Photo by
Woman near shattered window caused by a Hamas rocket on July 15, 2014 in the town of Sderot, Israel. (Photo by

Let’s start with a quiz. Who said the following: “We are marching a march of foolishness when it comes to Gaza. The government has no policy or strategic decision-making. Each day moves from combat to crisis — humanitarian or military — and sometimes both together.”

The answer, you see, is none other than senior minister and member of the security cabinet Yisrael Katz. His solution to Gaza’s problems, by the way, is a port and a comprehensive peace agreement. Who else supports building a port in Gaza? Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.

Herein lies the essence of the tragedy: this is not a matter of intense disagreement between right and left, only a march of folly led by Netanyahu and his government. There will be those who say this was a matter of cynical policy and those who will speak of leadership without a long-term vision. The results are essentially the same.

I recently moved to Sderot from nearby Sha’ar HaNegev. Perfect timing: this week saw four rocket alarms in Sderot, a few more in Eshkol and Shaar Hanegev, and several interceptions by the Iron Dome. Some rockets fell inside the city. Trump’s declaration restarted the back and forth, familiar to us all, between the IDF and Hamas. Days of Rage, Gazans wounded and killed, Qassam rockets and tunnels in the fields of Kibbutz Nirim.

Crowdfunding campaign banner

In addition to all of this is the construction of the underground barrier along the border with Gaza. Dozens of feet of cement deep, tens of miles long, which will cost Israelis at least four billion shekels. It would have probably been cheaper to pay for a personal security guard for each family in the western Negev for the next decade.

That being said, this is the time to ask the familiar question — the 17-year-old question, born when the first Qassam rocket fell on Sderot in April 2001: what is the objective? Where are our leaders taking us? Would it not be cheaper to put forward the “primitive” solution of a peace agreement?

Experience shows that these questions will remain unanswered. Minister Katz said in public what we all, residents of communities near the Gaza Strip, have known for years. There is zero investment in strategic discussions about Gaza and the western Negev. There is no direction for a sustainable resolution to the conflict. No one truly sees us or our children from their seats in Jerusalem — and certainly not the residents of Gaza — starving to death under worsening conditions, lack of running water and electricity. For some reason, the government prefers to invest in therapeutic centers and tax credits, rather than work to bring about peace and genuine prosperity to our region.

So what do we do? Political change. There is no other way. We must advance those who see reality for what it is, and who are burning with the real desire to change reality. We must join forces under the siren call of change: our campaign, “Hope instead of War,” which we’ve been leading over the last months, is an example of this.

We have not yet lost hope.

Avi Dabush is a member of the leadership of the Movement of the Periphery and a candidate in the eighth spot on Meretz’s list for the Knesset. This post first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.