‘Us’, ‘them’ and the disconnect between Israelis and Gazans

For the last five days, Gaza has come up in just about every conversation, Facebook status and thought I have encountered. Today, as the fourth daily siren rang out in Tel Aviv, the response of locals seemed much more fluid and far less fear-ridden than that of Thursday’s unexpected alarm. Neighbors ushered each other towards  basements and shelters, wondering aloud about how long it would be before the tell tale “boom” would sound.

As a novice to situations such as these, I am filled with a wash of contradictory emotions.

I feel frightened, not so much by the actual physical presence of danger but by the panicky roil that grips me whenever I think about the sirens. Having spent most of my life far away from the Middle East, the possibility of of these events seemed as far away as an alien invasion.

While I do not generally like to think about sides, these past few days, as one would expect in times of conflict, seemed to sharpen a sense of us versus them. Who that “us” is and who the “them” are are questions that I can’t seem to get a handle on.

At the same time, I am filled with curiosity about life in Gaza. I have never been to Gaza myself and have little clarity about what the place looks, smells and feels like. Obviously, the gaping disconnect between Israelis and Palestinians only contributes to the “us” and “them” notion that keeps the situation rooted in the trenches.

This video by Suroosh Alvi, posted in July by Vice News, is aimed at giving a sense of what life is like under Hamas rule in Gaza. On the way, it also provides images of daily life in the strip.

Click here for more +972 coverage on the Israel-Gaza conflict.