Surprise! Palestinians think this is a war.

Earlier today, two Israeli soldiers were “lightly to moderately wounded” by gunfire out of Gaza. According to HaAretz:

There has been an increase in hostile activity along the Israel-Gaza border, including the planting of explosive devices, shootings, and RPG fire.

Reports also emerged that two terror cells had been uncovered by Israel’s security services in the Hebron area:

Israel’s security forces have arrested operatives of a Hamas terrorist cell in the city of Hebron, suspected of planning to abduct Israelis in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.

… it was also made public that the IDF and Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service] uncovered another terrorist cell operating in the village of Yata, near Hebron in the West Bank. The cell used mobile phones to initiate explosive devices.

And furthermore

[T]wo months ago Israel’s security forces arrested a number of Palestinians suspected of attempting to abduct Israelis in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet, the squad had nine operatives living in the area of Ramallah.

News like this is cause for concern, and should remind us of the need for solid security arrangements in any future peace plan. Here’s what news like this shouldn’t do:

Surprise us.

Not because the Palestinian people are particularly given to violence and perfidy (any more than any other people) or are incapable of nonviolence (in fact, more and more Palestinians are turning to nonviolent protest) but because they are people.

When communities live in a warzone, those communities tend to respond with war. Israelis know a little something about this.

There’s a tendency among many both in and outside of Israel, however, to act as if Palestinian violence is somehow outside of the realm of human expectation. There is a further tendency to conflate the conscious targeting of civilians (which is vile and inexcusable) with the targeting of uniformed soldiers (which is war, and I’ll leave it to you to decide if war is vile).

I would submit, however, that carrying out violence against those with whom you’ve been at war for decades is a very, very human trait. Israel plans for it; why are we surprised when Palestinians do, too? Unless we expect them to quietly accept a circumstance that Israelis themselves would be unwilling to accept.

Clearly, denying people a state – and thus access to state-sanctioned violence – doesn’t prevent violence. (Israelis know a little something about that, too).

As I’ve written before, the only way for Israelis and Palestinians to stop killing each other is to stop. We will not beat each other into submission. We will only continue to be fully human, with all the glory and horror that implies.

5 Comments

  1. Want2Know

     /  May 23, 2012

    I was near/on the border with Gaza and in Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah in April. No surprise here. The parties are very far apart from what I could see. By the way, many interesting experiences on both sides of the wall and many great photos.

  2. AShaanan

     /  May 28, 2012

    As one Israeli who “knows a little something” about war and violence here, I wish to express my abhorrence of your elegant (for lack of a better word) justification (yes, justification-that’s exactly what it is!) of any and all violence headed our way by the Palestinian Arabs, who are only exhibiting a “very,very human trait”(!) in their continuing campaigns of targeting (in particular) civilians with murderous intent.
    Something which is “vile and inexcusable” is simply such, and any further attempt at expounding some sort of moral equivalence between expressed intent to kill civilians and the necessity of self-defense, preemption, or response by Israel is in my view a pathetically flawed perception.
    As for “denying people a state”, well, that goes back to at least 1948, that being the expressed intent of the Arabs, but fortunately, we beat back the attempts to annihilate us (that’s probably what you can only think to emphasize as being the “catastrophe” of the Arabs!).
    As for “state-sanctioned violence”- it is simply incredible how you can compare the Palestinian Authority and the regime in Gaza, what with encouragement, reward, and participation (yes, “state-sanctioned”!) of and in the most heinous of murderous attacks against Jews, with the Israeli state’s attempt to respond to and/or to prevent such “vile and inexcusable” (as you say) behaviors.
    No, nothing in all the news flashes you have shown “surprises” me as an Israeli.
    What is more than extremely disturbing and perhaps (unfortunately) also beyond “surprise” is your defending the right of Palestinian Arabs to kill me and other Israelis, all in a topsy-turvy form of logic that would even “surprise” George Orwell (may he rest in peace)!

    • I clearly disagree with your reading of facts and history, as well as the nature of the entire conflict, so all I’ll say is:

      I’m Israeli, my (Jerusalem-born and bred) husband is Israeli, we have an entire contingent of Israeli family living all over the country, some of whom are well within rocket range. I’ve lived through a war and several suicide bombing waves. I’m not talking about something that is distant or foreign to me.

      And while I am absolutely willing to accept disagreement and discussion in this space, I am not willing to accept rudeness, hostility, or open bigotry. You’re very, very close to the line on all of three of those with this comment, so please bear it in mind in the future.

  3. AShaanan

     /  May 28, 2012

    I’m very sorry that you consider my comments “rude”, “hostile” or “open bigotry”. That I disagree with you in what you have written may be certain, and if one can’t disagree without that disagreement being seen as rude,etc., then what is left other than to invite comments only from those whose views mirror your own. If you wish to see exactly from where I”m coming, than you might go back to the article you wrote in April about why you can’t live in Israel. I wrote a response;probably since it was written much later than your article, it may have escaped your notice . You had invited response to that article and that is why I wrote it. And to sum up, if you think that I have offended you in the tone of what I have written or in actual content, then I offer my sincere apologies for that, because while my views may be quite unacceptable to you, it has not been my intent to denigrate someone who truly seems to want dialogue.

    • As an exercise, go back to your first comment and put in different nouns, and then imagine it directed at you.

      Among other things, you’ve accused me of defending someone else’s “right to kill [you]” — a thing I never did, never have done, never will do. Imagine that first comment without that accusation. Imagine writing it with the presumption that I am not out to get anyone, but in fact want what’s best for everyone in this story.

      This blog is my house. If you walk into my house and want to be treated with respect, you’ll have to treat me and other commenters with respect. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is full to the brim with ad hominem attacks and loud invective. To the extent that I can prevent those unfortunate tendencies from invading this space, I will do so.