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  • Mark Lavie

The real Gaza, by a journalist who served in the IDF there:

January 15, 2024

Israeli journalist

100 reserve days officially ended yesterday. Some initial insights:

Gaza is seen as a backward area, the "most densely populated in the world" which has been under Israeli "siege" for years. There is no bigger lie than this. Gaza is a modern, beautiful, developed city, with large modern houses, wide boulevards, public spaces, a promenade by the sea and parks. Looks much better than any other Arab city from the Jordan to the sea, much more similar to Tel Aviv than to Kfar Qasim or Umm Al Fahem. And of course it is very far from being "the densest in the world".

1. If it's a siege, let me live in a siege. the houses are bursting with goods and food from all countries of the Middle East, latest furniture, electronics and whatnot. There are also luxurious mansions that wouldn’t embarrass Savion and Kfar Shemariahu (rich areas in Israel)

2. There is absolutely no shortage of wealth in Gaza. In general, most of the houses I've been in were much bigger than the apartment I live in in Tel Aviv. The sentence "If only they had a chance for a good life, they wouldn't fight in Israel" is simply not relevant to Gaza.

3. The most common thing in the houses of the Gaza Strip: a map of the Land of Israel the heading "Map of Palestine". There is no mention of Israel or Israeli towns in general. And it is found in almost every home, in every school and in every public institution, the goal of erasing the State of Israel is neither hidden nor suppressed, it is almost everywhere. The historical distortion of this map which is taught from age 0 is a topic for another discussion that only emphasizes the distorted perception of reality by the residents of Gaza. In all the neighborhoods we were in, there are ready-made Hamas combat complexes - weapons, tunnels, charges, launching complexes, all inside residential houses, some of which are also prepared with openings in the walls for passing between buildings and what not. The residents of the Gaza Strip who live in the combat zones know this, they have received countless notices to evacuate. Long before the IDF entered. IDF announcements are still there everywhere. Those who decided to stay in the fighting areas are either Hamas members in various positions or people who consciously decided to stay in the areas used by Hamas for fighting, for their own reasons.

4. 5. Hamas members rarely walk around armed. They are neither stupid nor suckers. They know they won't be shot if they go in "civilian" guise. They prepare the weaponry ahead of time at the entrances to the buildings and arm themselves just a moment before they attack. That’s why the fighting is much more complex than any other arena. those judge from the outside why soldiers shot X or didn’t shoot Y - enter Gaza for a week or 2 and you’ll return with insights. 6. The circle enabling Hamas is much larger than its tens of thousands of terrorists. The ideology of Hamas is found in almost every home, in pictures, in propaganda materials. Hamas in Gaza is like Messi in Argentina.

5. The strengthening of Hamas at this level requires active assistance of a population. There is no way that the residents of the compounds where we located rockets and weapons did not know that the place is used as a launching complex where they try to massacre Israelis daily. And I find it hard to believe that the parents in the kindergarten where there was a tunnel shaft do not know this. Who chooses to send their children to a kindergarten that serves as a terrorist infrastructure?

6. Hamas's strongest weapon is lies and propaganda. It's his fuel. This is how you will maintain the "siege" lie for years, this is how they are doing now with the photos of the innocent victims and the killing of the "journalists" who turn out to be terrorist operatives.

7. Gaza is the only place in the world where 500 deaths are reported half an hour after an explosion. Even in earthquakes and heavy disasters it takes the rescue forces a few days to identify and estimate the number of dead, but the Palestinian Ministry of Health already knows a minute after the explosion what the damage is. This is ridiculous and the world media quoting the numbers as living words of God is pathetic. I would attribute the same level of credibility to the reports this week about "hunger" in Rafah.

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