Thought Catalog: How do Israelis view the conflict in Gaza? Do they believe that this is a conflict they can win and what would winning look like?
Dina: I believe Israelis view the operation in Gaza as an unfortunate reality. They understand that a ground operation is the only way to protect their children from an imminent threat. To them, winning would look like peace in the land of Israel. Winning will require a partner in peace who has a similar desire for peace. As Golda Meir (Former female Prime Minister of Israel) said “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” As we already have seen, the death toll is rapidly continuing to increase. It is important to keep in mind that we are dealing with a recognized terrorist organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, even at the great expense of their own people. Hamas refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist creating an inherent problem when attempting peace.
Thought Catalog: When the rockets are flying, what does the average Israeli feel? I’d imagine there’s a lot of anxiety but can you help TC’s readers understand what it’s like?
Dina: I am certain there is a great deal of anxiety on both sides. There is a great deal of fear but also frustration.I know of a woman that hasn’t driven her car in weeks because she is too scared that she will be driving with her children when a rocket siren goes off. She would be forced to pick one child to save, since she wouldn’t have the time to get them all out of the car and into the shelter. The thought of that, has kept her from driving to avoid the potential scenario. This is no way of living. The short span of time after a siren goes off poses a serious challenge for the elderly, the disabled and even young children. These sirens disrupt daily life and cause civilians to live in fear, never knowing when the next siren will be, but always planning to be within 15 seconds of a shelter. However, after a while it becomes normal, and they get used to this unfortunate way of life. Hamas gives us no leaflets or warnings. The rockets come in randomly trying to cause destruction and chaos. Alternatively, Israel issues warning via leaflets, SMS, and phone calls prior to launching accurate and more sophisticated attacks aimed at destroying terrorist infrastructure.
Thought Catalog: Given how few Israelis have been injured from Palestinian rockets in this last outbreak of violence, are Israelis legitimately afraid of being hurt or is the danger more generalized?
Dina: The Iron Dome gives Israelis a greater sense of security but rockets are not the only threats that Israeli’s are facing. There have been attempted bombings but the IDF has been able to intervene. What this latest operation has uncovered is the vast network of underground tunnels, bunkers and passageways that Hamas has built. It has come to light that Hamas has used child labor with over 160 child casualties in the building of these terror tunnels. The tunnels have utilized enough concrete to have built 3 Burj Khalifa buildings. Instead of investing the more than $100 million dollars spent on uncovered tunnels, Hamas has used it to kidnap Israelis and plan further attacks. I think Israelis feel safer knowing the IDF is one of the world’s greatest and most sophisticated armies.
Thought Catalog: In every day life, are young Palestinians and Israelis friends? How common is this?
Dina: It is not uncommon for young Palestinians and Israelis to be friends especially in certain neighborhoods- however it is also not VERY common. There are not many opportunities generally for Arab and Jewish youth to get to know each other but some areas are more integrated than others. There are camps and schools that try to bridge this gap and reinforce co-existence. A good friend of mine is in Israel right now working at a summer camp which brings Arab and Jewish children together- to just be kids. The goal of this camp is to help foster organic, long lasting relationships to help the children gain a better and more real understanding of their neighbors.
Thought Catalog: What do young Israelis want to see for the future, especially those with Palestinian friends?
Dina: Young and old- Israelis want to see peace in the future. It’s a very simple answer; Israelis generally want to live in peace with their neighbors. They want to be able to continue on with their lives, they want their families and friends to be safe, they want their kids to be able to play outside after school, they want normalcy to be restored. Israel doesn’t brag about prior military victories as they mean very little without lasting peace.
Thought Catalog: Historically, Israel was established by the UN inside British occupied territory. Do Israelis view the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 as the starting point for Israel or do they view Israel’s starting point to be an ancient one that was only reaffirmed in 1948?
Dina: We do not view 1948 as the starting point for Israel as a Jewish land. 1948 was the proclamation of the State of Israel. However, the land has always had Jewish occupants. Throughout history, the land known today as Israel has had cycles of expansion and decline over several millennia.
Thought Catalog: You took issue with an article I wrote compiling Palestinian and Israeli Twitter photos and reactions. From my view point, I was simply showing what are facts on the ground, namely that a lot of Palestinian children have died in the fighting. What specifically bothered you about that piece?
Dina: I was specifically bothered about this piece because you only displayed pain from the Palestinian side, and you only displayed relaxed, “chilling” from the Israeli side. However, most Israelis are not calm at this time and in fact, they are facing great pain. I felt as though the article you wrote was not fairly depicting the reality. Israelis are trying their best to continue their lives in the most normal ways possible, however it is far from normal. I felt as though your article was seeking out an apology from Israelis for living their lives, having a beer, sitting on the beach etc. We should not have to apologize for living and surviving the attacks on us from Hamas. We celebrate life, and that is what we continue to try to do every day even though we too are under attack. Putting those pictures in the article the way you did, made it seem like a comparison, when in fact you cannot measure one person’s pain with another.Israel does everything in its power to protect Palestinian civilians. Hamas has publicly stated they use their civilians as human shields, to make their death toll rise, ultimately causing reactions similar to yours. However, most of the deaths from the Palestinian side should be blamed on Hamas for putting innocent civilians in the way of fire, in order to protect their weapons.