Palestinian rockets: The conversation no one is having

As I write this, Israel continues to escalate its air attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 100 Palestinians, of whom at least half were civilians; injuring more than 600; and displacing about 2,000 people from their homes. (The numbers vary widely by source and change by the minute.) The Israeli military has reportedly mobilized 40,000 reservists so that it can ramp up still further if it so decides. The justification for “Operation Protective Edge” is retaliation for rockets shot toward southern Israel, with some landing in Gazan fields, others intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system and a few making it in. (A full accounting is elusive, with varying reports in the media, often short on verifiable facts and long on emotional rhetoric.) To date, some Israeli property has been damaged, but no casualties and two injuries are reported.

It’s those Palestinian rockets that that are dominating the headlines, and that cause even normally sympathetic progressives to waffle in their condemnations of Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of the 1.7 million people corralled in Gaza. Yet there is very little direct, probing discussion of the topic. Is the line between provocation and retaliation really that clear? Is the use of violence to fight violence by some Palestinians somehow abnormal or unique? And what proportion of the population in Gaza is actually involved in the rocket attacks or supports the practice?

It’s time the peace community engages in this discussion, not just among ourselves but with those for whom the fight for liberation is real rather than academic: the Palestinians of Gaza.

Provocation vs. retaliation