ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Coexistence or the Erez Crossroads as the Enemy 8.3.04

Coexistence or the Erez Crossroads as the Enemy

08 March 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Palestinian terror attacks against the Erez Checkpoint and Industrial Zone at the northern end of the Gaza Strip are in vogue these past few weeks. When there is quiet, at least 15,000 Palestinian workers cross into Israel through Erez and 4,000 more are employed in joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures on the Palestinian side of the border. When the Erez Zone is closed some 20,000 Palestinian families are affected financially, totaling well over 120,000 people. It is common knowledge that each terror attack leads to paralysis in the Zone for at least a few days and heavy material losses for Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs and in particular the Gazan working class laborers.

So why the terror attacks? Most commentators and especially journalists explain the Erez Zone as an easy target with a considerable Israeli presence, hence the attacks. Tactically, the Zone is not such an easy target and most attackers, whether intending suicide or not, get themselves killed. Furthermore, the suicide-homicide bombers on Saturday only got themselves killed along with two Palestinian policemen while injuring ten others. The other Israeli targets are the Jewish settlements in Gaza which Palestinians see as representing a "conquest". Erez by contrast is living evidence of Jewish-Arab cooperation, meaning the acceptance of Israel's right to exist, no matter what will be decided concerning the final borders.

The last attack was the joint effort of Hamas, the Jihad and Fatah. As of late, the Hizbollah has made inroads into the Palestinian terror groups and society in general (Maariv, March 5, 2004, The Hizbollah Within Us by Amit Cohen), rejecting any and all agreements with Israel. Hamas and Jihad spoke of a hudna (Islamic cease-fire aimed at complete victory later on) and Fatah supposedly supported PA Chairman Yasir Arafat in accepting a two-state solution. Today it is clear that all three demand a continual unremitting war against Israel, the objective being total destruction.

Erez is not only a symbol of coexistence, it is the tangible reality of earning a living for thousands of Palestinians. Erez workers stay clear of terrorism and have respect for the lives of those whom they support with their hard earned paychecks. These workers have chosen life and the compromise that comes with it, life as Palestinian Arabs alongside the Jewish State.

The terrorists have chosen total war and death. Strategically they want no cooperation or compromises with Israel and will destroy any possibilities enabling their own people to take a path other than their own. Their objective is to destroy the Erez Crossroads and Industrial Zone, not only as a symbol, but as a living mechanism. They hope those who lose their jobs will then join them in their orgy of suicide-homicide killings.

The terrorists may succeed in closing the Erez Zone but their plans may very well implode on them once Israels withdrawal from Gaza is complete and the border is sealed. Tens of thousands of Gazans will look back nostalgically at the days when the Erez Zone was a vibrant economic indicator of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation.