A Siege Broken
Hamas launches an unprecedented operation against Israel, breaking through the border wall that blockades the Gaza Strip and taking control of Israeli settlements.
It is easy to be lulled into a state of complacency, even with military occupation.
Israel’s occupation of Palestine has gone on longer than many of us on Earth have been alive, now going on 75 years. The levels of that deplacement, blockading, and violence have ebbed and flowed over years and decades, but that hand around the neck has always remained, even if how much it constricts has a tendency to loosen and tighten. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel this year in its occupation. News bulletins of them dying, oftentimes teenagers, come up through the headlines of Palestinian newspapers and channels as often as the weather. These deaths at the hands of Israeli security personnel are not isolated incidents, with soldiers materializing on roadsides and at checkpoints as unfortunate coincidence. They are constant spikes in the waveform of an incessant low-grade hum of humiliation, imprisonment, and destruction that has made daily life a forced agreement to constantly exist on the precipice of death.
This framing is not meant to be a tired retread of the conflict between Israel and Palestine or the nature of the Israeli occupation. This is meant to be a bulwark against the inevitable framing of this latest battle unfolding around Gaza, as it will appear in the Western media in the days to come.
There is a tendency, a deep-set one, to report Israel and Palestine as two countries that are on roughly the same playing field internationally, as you might report on a war that might involve Israel battling against a place like Jordan or Egypt. This kind of coverage obscures how deeply interlocked Israel’s military operations are with the fabric of the Palestinian society.
In the West Bank, settlements and checkpoints have made Palestinian land into a kind of comical archipelago, where in addition to being separated from Gaza by a huge land border, they are also separated from traveling to communities only a stone’s throw away from them without going through significant anguish. In Gaza, while no Israeli soldiers walk the streets, all their land borders are essentially sealed, their ports almost completely blockaded. Israel’s continued occupation has been so pinpoint and precise that its planes have gone as far as bombing bookstores, and its restrictions did not let up even when the COVID-19 pandemic reduced one health organization to carrying only as many tests of the deadly disease as could fit in a car.
This is not a matter of moral justification; one does not need to constantly busy themselves with having to make a full ideological conversion before understanding this. This is a matter of cause and effect.
What is the logical expectation, regardless of politics, ideology, culture, and creed, when a population of people is thrust into conditions that can only be described as an open-air prison, where every individual is a criminal in the eyes of the military occupying power regardless if they pick up a rifle or not, because there is supposedly always the threat that they will one day?
These are the basic conditions that have preceded the initiation of Operation al-Aqsa Storm this morning. As dawn broke on the morning of October 7, only one day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, launched a military operation of unprecedented scope in its history. Hamas fighters would not only attempt to enter Israeli territory proper with ground troops, already in of itself an intensely bold action (though not without precedent in the past decade). This operation would be a combined incursion into Israel by both land, sea, and even air. Ground forces would cut the border fence into settlements surrounding Gaza, speedboats would make landings in southern Israel, and fighters from a newly-inaugurated paraglider division would fly over the border fortifications and then further inland.