One year after disengagement, ghosts remain

Bloodshed, destruction and fear are the remnants of the Israeli occupation army across the Gaza Strip since the Israeli settlers were evacuated on September 12, 2005 army. A year has passed since the Israeli ‘disengagement’ from Gaza, and since then there remains only the Israeli occupation’s ghost, moving from one place to another throughout the Gaza Strip — home to 1.3 million Palestinians, one of the most crowded places on earth.

In myths we learned that a ghost can never kill, but instead sabotages one’s life by haunting its victims - causing panic, leaving no room for peaceful sleep. The role of ghosts in mythology has become the reality of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s ghost for the past year of ‘no-occupation’ is still casting fear, panic and destruction everywhere in Gaza, starting from the northernmost city of Beit Hanoun down to Beit Lahia, from eastern Gaza City to the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Maghazi, and from Khez’a town to Rafah in the south.

The ghost, which lies on the borders of this most-densely populated part of the world, has been causing a great deal of devastation to Gaza’s human beings, infrastructure and economy, since September 12, 2005.

The populated parts of Gaza are empty of a single Israeli soldier; they have all disappeared from the sight of ordinary Gazans, yet these Gazans are still being victimized by these soldiers’ ghosts.

Right after the disengagement, Israeli jetfighters hovered in the Gaza sky, as an apparent reminder that they indication that they still existed. They spread panic every day and night by their ‘sonic booms’, that sound like bombs, on a daily and nightly basis.

In addition, the Israeli army created a one-kilometer deep buffer zone in the northern Gaza Strip, under the pretext of preventing Palestinian resistance groups from firing homemade rockets at nearby Israeli towns.

Israeli warplanes and drones committed a series of extra-judicial assassinations — targeted killings, claiming the lives of dozens of Palestinians, including dozens of innocent women, men and children.

Also, throughout the past year, the Israeli occupation’s ghost kept control over the main Gaza border crossing points, such as the Rafah crossing terminal (which is now observed by European observers), and the Karni and Sofa commercial crossings, thus having complete control over the movement of people and goods alike, and turning the Gazans into puppets controlled by this invisible hand.

This ghost also interfered in Palestinian politics, by rejecting the outcome of the Palestinian elections — elections which were judged to be the most democratic in the Middle East, which brought to power the Hamas movement on January 25, 2006 — just four months after disengagement.

So tax money due to the newly-elected Palestinian government has been withheld by Israel since January. The ghost’s finger has gestured to others to take the same stand, and international aid has been cut to the entire population, in an attempt to undermine the Palestinian political system as well.

Israel’s rejection of the electoral outcome has pushed the Palestinian economy to the brink of collapse, with crossings closed and 160,000 Palestinian government employees having received no salaries since March.

Shortly before mid 2006, after 8 months of disengagement, the ghost’s intrusion into Palestinian life in Gaza has reached a climax, as the Israeli occupation army stepped up its attacks on all parts of Gaza areas including Gaza’s shore, where a 7-member family, including women and children, were killed in cold blood by Israeli fire.

In June 2006, the Israeli undercover units abducted two Palestinian brothers inside the Palestinian borders in Rafah city, instigating some Palestinian resistance groups to retaliate by infiltrating into Israeli borders and killing two Israeli soldiers while abducting a third.

This unprecedented attack on an Israeli army base inside Israeli borders to the south of Rafah has led to the apex of Israeli army attacks on the Gaza Strip, known as ‘Summer Rain’ (the codename for the current Israeli military operation in various parts of the Gaza Strip). With ‘Summer Rain’, the ghost has materialized as a physical apparition — and unlike the ghosts of mythology, this apparition can kill, with complete impunity.

From June 27 until this very moment, Israeli soldiers are killing humans, destroying homes and uprooting trees throughout Gaza. The Israeli occupation army has killed more than 250 Palestinian men, women and children, wounded more than 1000 others, devastated Gaza’s power plant, bridges, ministerial buildings, farms and houses, thus leaving the population of 1.4 million people without electricity. It is as if the people of Gaza are living in the stone age — a time when people actually believed in such things as ghosts.

Rami Elmeghari is a freelance journalist and translator in the Gaza Strip. This article appeared first at the Independent Middle East Media Center.