With so much pain and suffering that has occurred (and is still occurring) today in Israel/Palestine, it's difficult to even write. However, I have been inspired to do so by a few glimmers of humanity.
First, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the tragedies that have occurred and are still occurring as we speak, and so I will begin by very briefly laying out what has happened today and is happening now. However, after doing so, I will move to the second half of the title, to the story of how Israel's protesters have decided to defiantly reject the government's calls to halt social protests in the wake of the violence.
I will get there. But first, the tragedies:
Today, there was a coordinated attack by 15-20 Gazan terrorists (from PRC) who tunneled into Sinai and fired upon a civilian bus near Eilat. The attack killed 8 Israelis and wounded over 30. A horrific scene.
In response, Israel attacked Gaza, both targeting those terrorists responsible and the tunnels involved, killing several militants.
This campaign has since spread, and numerous targets in Gaza have been bombed, with sustained campaigns reportedly ongoing both from the sea, ground and air. Ynet recently reported that Gaza was under a "major attack," and reports of a child killed and dozens of civilian wounded are coming across the wire.
So much pain - it needs to be recognized. This cycle of violence that harms the innocent on both sides, and benefits those looking for distractions on both sides, is in danger of continuing.
One of those distractions? The massive social protests rocking Israel currently....
...with today's violence, Israel's government predictably called upon the massive social protest movement to cancel its rallies scheduled to be held across the country this weekend. Asked is perhaps too light. Government officials demanded that the protests be put on hold while Israel mourns those who have been lost and responds militarily with force.
At first, the student protest leaders relented. In the wake of the violence, they canceled the protests. End of story.
But then something happened. Protesters themselves on both the political left and the political right, enraged by the announcement, defiantly demanded the organizers reverse it's decision. As Dimi Reider reports:
The demand not to cancel the rallies was picked up by left-wing and right-wing Israelis alike; the former argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government should not be allowed to distract from the protests through an escalation on the Gaza front, while the latter were outraged by the notion of allowing a terrorist organisation to do away with a popular Israeli protest that didn’t yield to Israel’s own government.
And so, in defiance of Netanyahu's government, the protest movement has announced that it will engage in mass rallies this weekend, determined to make sure the government knows that it can no longer use violence as a distraction.
But these rallies will be different. They will not be protesting for "social justice" this weekend, calling for economic justice within Israel. Instead, they will march, silently, with candles. A peaceful march. A memorial to all victims. To be culminated with discussions about violence. About pain. About conflict.
I do not remember a time in Israel in which such a moment occurred – in which such a mass, popular movement vocally refused to be quieted by the sounds of war, refused to sit down and allow for the "security conversation" to paralyze everything.
Doing so does will not bring back the lives of of the dead. But maybe -- just maybe, doing so could end up saving some of the living.
With so much pain in my heart for what's happening right now, it's my only hope.
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