When Akkas Al-Ali's Israeli friend accused him of "siding with terrorists" in Gaza, he decided to write the following letter in response.
© Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
July 12, 2014 – Israeli residents, mostly from Sderot, sit on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip to watch Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
By now, I expect you are fully aware of the apocalyptic scenes that have been coming out of Gaza over the past few weeks. In case you are not, I hope the following will give you some idea of what the Israeli army - spurred on by the country's government, by politicians, by journalists, by academics, by the lynch mobs in the streets - has successfully achieved in just six weeks.
From the beginning, we can now surmise, the Israeli military's sight has been set on nothing but blasting Gaza, an area of land several times smaller than greater London, my hometown, back to the Stone Age. Yesterday, 26 August, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 2,101 Palestinians have been killed. Of this dreadful figure, 1,460 (69%) are civilians, 493 (23%) are children and 253 (12%) are women. The number of casualties is even higher. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 11,066 (mostly civilians) have been wounded, including 3,374 children.
But this is still not the entire picture; a picture it is imperative for you, as an Israeli Jew, to know, because these crimes are being committed in your name. Whether you are aware of them or not, the Israeli state has already implicated you in its actions.
Since 8 July - in just 51 days
- this regional superpower has bombarded Gaza by F16, helicopter, drone, artillery, tank, ship and other weaponry. It has dropped almost 20,000 tonnes of explosives on Gaza, roughly equivalent to the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. It has displaced over 485,000 people with 240,000 fleeing to already overcrowded UN shelters. It has destroyed 16,000 homes. It has damaged 21 hospitals, 167 schools, 108 mosques, 52 fishing boats, 18 charities, five universities, five high-rise buildings, and eight water and waste plants.
Electricity supplies have also been cut off after the bombing of Gaza's only power plant. As a direct result of Israel's destruction of basic and essential health services, the United Nations recently predicted an outbreak of serious diseases such as typhoid and cholera, not seen in Gaza for decades.
As I write to you, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire to which, I must point out, half the Israeli cabinet remain opposed. And given Israel's long history of breaking agreements with Palestinians, how long will it be before this one is also rendered meaningless? How long before Israel launches another war and Palestinians must resume counting dead bodies? Who, when the time comes, will answer for these crimes against humanity, for the children that lie dead in Shujaeya, in Rafah, in Khuza'a? Will it be you?
Yet for all the cruel force and unyielding power of the Israeli army, this tiny corner of the Mediterranean will always haunt you. For it is here that the stray wreckage of your national memory - the Nakba you choose to forget - lies buried.