I have lived in this part of Israel for 45 years – the region that used to be called the Western Negev. However, people have long forgotten where that is; for years, they have known us as Otef Aza – the Gaza Envelope. When the Kassam rockets became a daily and deadly occurrence, well over a decade ago, we called ourselves ‘Kassam Land’.
But that name, too, entered the annals of history. Today people just call us ‘the otef’. Many people in Israel do not know exactly where it is – which is offensive, given the size of the country and what we are ‘famous’ for – but they know that it is nowhere they want to live.
What is it like living in a region that has known constant and countless military operation, rocket attacks, mortar shells and terror tunnels? What is it like living in a region in which, for nearly 120 days, arson kites and booby-trapped balloons/condoms have burned thousands of acres of farmland and nature parks? What is it like knowing that children here are traumatized by the ‘situation’ – a euphemism for the ongoing war, while parents continue to expose their children to this insane and dangerous childhood?
What is it like knowing that my two million neighbors in the Gaza Strip have been collectively punished since 2007, when the Israeli government imposed a blockade on that tiny region? What is it like knowing that while they have only three to four hours a day of electricity, and no…