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While continuing to explore social media responses to this latest war on the part of leftist and pro-peace activist NGOs in Israel, I discovered an initiative out of Gaza. I am always looking for peace initiatives coming from the Palestinian side and not just Palestinian Arabs joining Jewish initiatives.

I came across a Facebook page for a website named “Across the Wall.” While there is a fence and not a wall dividing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the title of the page gave me the impression it is an attempt to encourage person-to-person communications from Gazans to Israelis. More on the title below my discussion of the particular post I want to highlight here.


The Facebook post I bring to you here is from a Gazan man. He is not yet 30 years old. He hates Hamas. I was heartened by that. I bring you this individual because I am sure he is representative of many more.

I translate the letter into English below the embedded FB post.

I thought of editing this piece for length but decided against that. You don’t have to read the whole thing, of course, but I thought you might like the entire letter because of the passion with which he writes. I will comment at various points in the letter.

My name is Ishmael, I am from Gaza. My friends and I established “Across the Wall” a few years ago. I am writing directly to you at the moment. [22 October 2023]

I’ve been torn between worlds for ten days. between two extremes: there is no hope, there is hope. There is none. Why am I even getting into this? Why write? It’s all too depressing. Let the sky fall once and for all, and that’s it. Let us die

I did not expect such a thing to happen. I feel helpless. I feel rage. I feel sorrow for the civilians who were killed on the Israeli side. I feel sorry for the civilians on our side.It takes me a lot of time and effort to formulate and the days pass and my world is erased. I read the news in Hebrew. The killing of Israeli civilians near Gaza was horrible. Israel always started, Israel declared, and now we are the ones who started. Me, and my mother, and my father, and my six-year-old little sister, we, the “human animals”, are no longer human in your eyes. And it is legitimate to kill us, bury us all, carpet bomb our houses. My aunt was killed yesterday. And her children too.

I have no doubt Ishmael is suffering. I am glad that in his suffering he is still able to express sorrow for the Israeli civilians killed (and tortured and raped and abducted — hmmm. why did he not mention this?) as that is more than some Gazans and Hamas supporters are willing to say. He claims that Israel has in the past always started the wars (some of which we did not raise to the level of “war”, instead calling them “operations”). I guess he does not consider unprovoked launchings of incendiary balloons and kites as incitement to war. Nor the periodic unprovoked odd missile here and there as incitement to war. In many cases, Israel let these slide and did not respond at all, playing ostriche, hoping it would blow over of its own accord — those Gazans just letting off steam, perhaps.

So if Israel usually started, and declared war where Ishmael saw no incitement or provocation on Gaza’s side, then how did WE provoke the Gazans to lob the various weapons across the fence onto our agricultural fields and into civilian locations? How did WE start it? Dare I say that we started it in 1948 when we won the war the Arab states waged against us? We started it by not having died and gone away back then. We started it by having the gall to live and breathe as sovereigns on land once ruled by Moslems.

I find myself doing death calculations: how many must die to cool the rage? To balance the dead in Israel? Three times? Ten times? And how can you even think like that? And there is no horizon for the end of the war soon.

Here he errs the same as many other critiques of Israel err — in thinking that this is a war of revenge. It is not. It is the preventative war we should have waged decades ago, when we had early signs of how Gaza had turned into a hornet’s nest of terrorists. Just this time, we finally recognized the fact that our leaders’ policy of “mowing the grass” is no longer tenable and the weeds must be uprooted.

One thousand three hundred people were killed in Israel. Most of them civilians. Over three thousand Palestinians are here in Gaza for now. A thousand of them are children. Entire neighborhoods were wiped out, the Rimal neighborhood, a place I loved, which I visited endlessly as a child. This is a small Tel Aviv of Gaza, full of liberals. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing from place to place now.

Where were those voices, those liberals in Gaza? Were there hundreds of thousands of liberals? If there were, there were enough to fight against Hamas. However, only 1000 came out in 2017 to demonstrate against the Hamas terror organization that pretends to be a legitimate government.

I’m too discouraged to talk to my parents. I’m afraid to check how they are. Every day people I love die, and every few hours, when there is reception and the Internet, my mother and father send me a message: “We are fine.” I tried to convince them to run away from the house and failed. My brother yelled at me, that he knows I want the best for them, but it is no good. There is no safe place.

And here, do we have an example of people who prefer to die in their homes rather than join the exodus south to the safe place set up for civilians? Because there Israel did set up a safe place in the south and now there are new safe zones for those in the south who need to escape Khan Yunis. Yes, Hamas started shooting at the escapees, but the IDF quickly guarded the route and made it safe for travel. Probably even safe for terrorists to embed themselves among legitimate uninvolved civilians.

There is a lot of tension in our house. Everyone loses their temper. There is no drinking water in Gaza. People don’t shower anywhere. Hardly drink. We go to the bathroom once a day, once every two days. Soon tens of thousands will die of thirst here, in the siege. Entire families wiped off the face of the earth. Dozens of babies were buried under the rubble of their homes. The pictures are so cruel and they don’t reach you.

The ceiling collapses and a man is buried alive. This is how the end usually comes, and you never know when it will happen to you. If you’re lucky, you die instantly. If not, for hours, under mountains of concrete, without oxygen, and the neighbours, sometimes with bare hands, will try to rescue you, find a limp hand, a human face among the rocks, people covered in dirt. Gray Some die. Some are alive. It is evident that the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy. In our flesh it is evident.

Yes, we know about the massive destruction and the hardships. We also know that Hamas takes water and food and medicines for their own members and even sells the humanitarian aid in shops at exhorbitant prices. We know that Hamas tries to prevent civilians from escaping to the south. I am heartbroken for all the children and innocent civilians who are perishing, but why is it so hard to hold onto the address to which complaints should be directed?

I guess most people reading this don’t care.

Many of us do. Many do not.

I know that shocking things happened in Israel as well. That people were massacred and children were murdered and kidnapped. I oppose it.

I hate Hamas.

This is good to hear.

I hate Israel. Hate anyone who instigates war and occupation instead of leading to a political solution.

And here you lose me. You hate Hamas and you hate Israel. I don’t need you to love Israel. You can hate Israel. But to accuse Israel of instigating war and occupying Gaza — that is just two lies in one sentence. You live under Hamas. You know that they are not interested in a political solution. You have likely been taught in school that the only solution to the problem is to wipe out Israel. So are you fooling yourself when you say this or are you trying to guilt us into stopping the war and letting Hamas continue to occupy you and threaten us with extermination?

I can identify with the anguish in the next part of your letter to us. I can relate to your attempts to understand what is happening and why, what will result from all of this and why.

Nothing here makes sense. And I suddenly succumb to conspiracy theories to interpret the chaos. How did Israel not know about the Hamas attack? Why now? Will there be another Naksha? No one understands anyone’s motives anymore.

I’m glued to the news. Nothing helps. Talk about ground entry. More and more deaths, for months; these are the only results this war will have. Bereavement, then rage, then revenge. And the cycle continues.

I grew up here, and it is clear to me: Israel cannot destroy Hamas through such a massive shelling of Gaza and the killing of thousands of civilians. This only strengthens the basic claim of Hamas, that Israel’s goal is to kill every Palestinian without distinction, and that only force and violence is the way to deal with such a violent and cruel enemy. This convinces people, especially because you control us,

We control you? Since when? Since 2005 when we pulled out every Jew and left you to build your own future without us there? Why? Because we only let in a given amount to work in Israel — and try to see that happen again! Because we took your children to Israeli hospitals for medical care? Because we check merchandise entering at the checkpoints to limit your ability to build bombs and tunnels? We certainly didn’t do a very good job of that, did we! Have you registered these same complaints with Egypt that controls your southern border crossing? I didn’t think so.

because we do not have freedom and a state, both in the West Bank, where there is no Hamas [OMG — how can you say this? The mayor of Hebron is Hamas, the student leaders in the universities are Hamas, and that is only part of it], and also in Gaza, which is like a prison for civilians under siege. [That lie has be debunked so many times, such as here, but people refuse to see it.]

I don’t believe in Hamas’ world view and oppose it, but for all these reasons I see how it gets stronger after every war, every Israeli shelling, every time a family is buried alive and erased from this world. Those who remain dream of revenge.

Then take out your revenge against Hamas! Open a case against them in the ICC, for example. Surely there are enough individuals who can report on Hamas crimes against humanity, against Gazan civilians, even without reference to the current war.

Desire for revenge is a natural response to fear. I read a lot, in Israel now, about a desire to avenge us. And I understand that.

No, You don’t understand. You interpret our drive to rid Gaza of Hamas as a desire to get revenge. You should be thanking us. We are doing your dirty work for you. If anyone has a chance of ridding Gaza of Hamas it is us. Israel. And the first direct beneficiary will be you — you Gazans who say you hate Hamas. And we do not anticipate nor need your thanks or your love. We just need to do this because WE need to this for US. The fact that you can also benefit from this if you decide to hate Israel a little bit less is beside the point for us. Whether or not you use the opportunity to benefit from it is up to you.

I felt it myself, many times, after every round, every time a person I loved died from your shells. I still feel it. Today I’m almost thirty years old and I know it doesn’t solve anything.

I can’t imagine a future right now. do not know how. don’t know when Just know that what is happening should be a final sign for us that the old way, the way of fire and power, will not work and will not give security. Not for us, not for you.

And there we have it. This is a supposedly innocent Gazan. He hates Hamas. But he will still not take Hamas to task for the evils it is enacting against the people of Gaza. He still blames Israel for what is wrong. And that is why I will still look for the innocent Gazan who I can trust will not stab me if my back is to him. THEN we can talk about a political solution. And not a moment before.

On 28 October, that is, just a week after this letter was posted, a final post was uploaded onto the Across the Wall page. Translated, it reads:

The entire family of the person who founded this page are in Gaza. He has written innumerable messages to Israelis over the years promoting peace and a just future. His family was bombed to death this week by the Israel air force. Twenty-three people, all his loved oned: his father, little sisters, brother, nephews and even babies were in the house — everyone died. Their bodies of those who were found were burned or torn apart but most of them were buried under the rubble of the house in Deir al Balah. For this reason, with great sorrow, posts on this page will stop for now.

I am sad his family did not take the route down south to the safe zone where humanitarian aid and medical attention is being provided to citizens if they can keep Hamas from stealing it. But at least they can put up a tent and hold out until the end of the war.

Back to the name of the website and the Facebook page, called, in English “Across the Wall“: In Hebrew, it is called אנחנו מעבר לגדר which translates into English as “Us, on the other side of the fence.” In Hebrew they call it a fence and in English a wall. Is that significant? I don’t know. Another interesting point is that the URL for their website Border gone? Does that represent their ultimate ambition? Does that not coincide with what Hamas also wants? Innocent civilians? Where?

{Reposted from the author’s blog}

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Sheri Oz, owner of, is a retired family therapist exploring mutual interactions between politics and Israeli society.