Stop the Kassam Attacks Without Collective Punishment

Categories: Letters From Leadership

As a resident of the area and a lecturer at the Sapir College, a place that is in the heart of “kassam land”, I stand with the people of the western Negev in their demand that the extremely threatening and frightening situation cannot continue. Innocent people are being harmed – physically, but also no less importantly psychologically – from the kassam and mortar attacks. This widespread and deadly violence, on the part of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad against citizens, who only want to live their lives, is neither justified nor moral.

All forms of non-violent protest on our part – directed against the decision makers on both sides of the border – are legitimate.

In recent weeks, some residents of the area have been gathering near the borders to prevent the transfer of supplies, food and medicines to people in Gaza, who are living under conditions that are much worse and much more dangerous than the conditions under which we Israelis live. Their reasoning: As long as the rocket attacks continue, we will prevent the people in Gaza from having access to needed supplies.

This is both an unjustified and immoral act.

Preventing the transfer of supplies that are necessary for the sustaining of life is collective punishment – and it constitutes widespread and indiscriminate violence on our part against innocent people on the other side. Neither the children in Sderot and Otef Aza, nor the children in the Gaza Strip, are responsible for the violent conflict that exists between Israel and the Palestinians.

I call upon residents of the region not to support, and to actively oppose, acts of protest that prevent the transfer of food, medications and any and all supplies that are necessary for ordinary people – such as us – who live on the other side of the border. This is a violent act that is an immoral one. We need to demand from our leaders and decision makers that they find other ways to solve to the insufferable ongoing rocket fire on Sderot and Otef Aza regions, but not by imposing collective punishment against innocent people.

Our protest against this impossible violent situation needs to be grounded in respect for human life – ours and that of the population in Gaza. We cannot allow ourselves to be convinced into believing that supporting, and even worse, encouraging collective punishments, that directly harm the basic rights of the people, is a legitimate form of protest. In the end, such forms of protest and punishment will become a deadly boomerang. If we adopt non-violent measures that are rooted in demanding human and civil rights for all peoples in Israel and the Gaza Strip, we will not only be fighting for the rights to live securely in our home, but for the true honor and morality of this home.

About Julia Chaitin, Ph.D.

Julia Chaitin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Sapir College in Israel and a member of Kibbutz Urim.
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