After the loss of my friend and my friend Wahdan, we will never have peace nor security. Israel and Gaza will never forget: a very painful time in history
I left his funeral last week crushed, knowing we had lost such a righteous soul. To me it’s clear. After his death, my friend fought against Hamas to protect his friends and family, and he fought against Hamas during his years of activism against the occupation.
All our casualties and the suffering brought on Palestinians in Gaza accomplished nothing since our leaders refused to work on creating a political reality in which more violence would not be inevitable. While I believe in self-defense, fighting in Gaza taught me that if my government doesn’t change its approach from crushing Palestinian hope to committing to Palestinian independence, not only will this war kill an untold number of Israelis and Palestinians in addition to the thousands who already have died, but it also will not decisively end terror. A ground invasion is doomed to failure.
For years, a lot of people on the left in Israel have warned that unless there is a political agreement between Palestine and Israel, we will never have peace and security. Human rights activists, as well as the former head of the Shin Bet, are taking this position that creating Palestinian hope is how terror can be defeated.
At one point, I scribbled some thoughts on a piece of paper. I wrote that some members of my team had been tallying the number of soldiers killed and discussing whether this operation was worth the losses. “I think it could be worth it,” I wrote, “as long as we decisively eliminate the threat.”
The roar of Air Force fighter jets and deafening blasts of debris and smoke rose as we left Beit Hanoun. The eight members of the Wahdan family who were killed in those moments were mostly women and children, and their home solders had been there for a few days.
That was my experience the last time Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip in a large-scale way, when my special forces unit, attached to the 993rd Nahal Brigade, was one of the first to go in.
When my infantry unit arrived at the first village in Gaza in July of 2014, they were faced with booby traps and ambush, so they cleared the houses by blowing doors open, firing guns into rooms and sending grenades through windows. We were told Palestinian civilians had fled.
Even today, I remember how the ground shook from the constant explosions as we moved into Gaza at dusk at the start of the ground invasion on July 17. The sound and lightening show we jokingly called the sound-and-light show was caused by the bombardment of the fields by our tanks.
I realized this wasn’t true as I stood over the corpse of an elderly Palestinian woman whose face had been mutilated by shrapnel. She had been lying on the sand floor of a shack, in a pool of blood.
Many Bedouins have lost their livelihoods in the wake of the Israeli attacks, creating extreme hardship for an already struggling community. “There are a lot of people who are suffering,” Ms. Ziadna said. “Many people are out of jobs. People are afraid.
The people have nowhere to go when Hamas fires rockets. The largely aluminum roofs of the Bedouin homes turn into deadly shrapnel, which she called “knives.” Hamas rockets killed several members of one Bedouin community.
Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha, who grew up in the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, said she rushed to her hospital in Beer Sheva as the staff scrambled to treat hundreds of patients that day, including victims who had lost limbs and others who had been shot, including Bedouins. They treated children, seniors and foreigners too.
Ayesha Ziadna, 29, a relative of the Ziadnas who were attacked on the beach, said that the four members of the family who disappeared are still missing, as are a number of other residents of the area, though the exact number was not immediately clear.
The biggest city in an impoverished, predominantly Bedouin area of southern Israel, was among the 17 people killed in the Hamas attacks. Another victim there was an Arab paramedic from northern Israel who had come to work at the all night music and dance festival where 260 people were slain.
The Hamas group attacked a beach near the Gaza Strip that had been camping with his family in the Mediterranean Sea.