Israeli state/military propaganda is so successful that while there is continuous talk about how Hamas uses the people of Gaza as a human shield, there is absolute silence on how the Israeli government and military have been cynically using the towns around Gaza to perpetuate an untenable situation that requires continual military intervention. The result is that over the past eight years, Gaza has become a safety valve for the Israeli carrot-and-stick approach that Tom Segev discusses in Haaretz.
As the noose around Gaza tightens and loosens, most Israelis continue to buy into the sham of self-defense and lack of other options. But all this policy does in the long run is perpetuate the conflict so that the Israeli government can throw up its hands in the air and say: see, it is impossible to have peace with the Palestinians. The license to violence this gives Israel is a necessary part of what Jeff Halper calls the Israeli “matrix of control” — an obfuscatory mechanism that allows the occupation to continue through bureaucratic and legal measures even when land is given up.
But there are Israelis who get it. Particularly those in Hamas’s range of fire which, as feeble as it is compared to Israeli fire power, still does its share of damage. Along with a group of Palestinians, residents of Sderot have signed a petition calling for an end to the IDF operation in Gaza and a renewal of the truce with Hamas. The mayor of Netivot, one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s most important supporters in the Negev, is similarly calling for negotiations with Hamas. (Addendum: A resident of the Najaf has an op-ed in the Washington Post along the same lines)
These are the very people the Israeli military is supposedly going to war for. They have come to realize that military conflict will only deepen the rift and make a peaceful, long-term resolution impossible. They realize that this will end in yet another truce that will be broken yet again only to be followed by another truce, etc… and that all this form of “self defense” has ever done for them is to make them more susceptible to a growing number and an expanding range of home-made missiles.
And if only to complicate the picture further, David over at Remarkz has a very interesting article on the people who live in Sderot.