A Day of Remembrance... and reproach

It was not just another Remembrance Day in Israel.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 04:46
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A Day of Remembrance... and reproach

It was not just another Remembrance Day in Israel. The day of commemoration for the soldiers who have died and the victims of hostile acts took place in the cemeteries with October 7 still fresh in the memory and the prayers of relatives with hostages in Gaza. And in one year, 1,600 new names have been added, due to the 1,139 Israelis killed in attacks by Hamas and other groups in the strip, and the 271 soldiers killed in the brutal Israeli invasion of Gaza, in which has murdered more than 35,000 Palestinians. But, far from the usual solemnity of this day, yesterday's commemorative events were marked by tensions and reproaches from mourners and protesters towards Beniamin Netanyahu and members of his coalition, spread across the events in 54 military cemeteries.

The prime minister led the central ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and saw how, as he began his speech, a good number of attendees decided to leave in protest. Another of those present took the opportunity to display an Israeli flag with the legend “7/10” painted in red, in an apparent complaint to the president for not assuming responsibility for the errors caused by the unprecedented assault on October 7.

Netanyahu, however, once again avoided any acknowledgment of guilt, as did the head of internal intelligence, Ronen Bar, or the head of the armed forces, Herzi Halevi. Instead, he reiterated that “we will achieve the objectives of victory, first and foremost the return of all our hostages,” and that the actions in Gaza are part of an “existential war.”

His words failed to calm the spirits of some families with fallen soldiers, who interrupted his speech. shortly before finishing, with chants of “you took our children.” Specifically, a man snapped at him: “Trash! There is nothing to respect here, he killed my children.” While, during her turn on stage, Doris Liber, mother of the dead hostage Guy Luz, whose body is being held by Hamas, reproached her: “I don't have a grave to visit, give them all back to us.”

If Netanyahu experienced moments of booing, the ceremony that took place in Ashdod was worse, where the presence of the Minister of Security, the extremist and settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, exhibited the divisions of Israeli society, with followers and detractors of the current Government of far right. Upon his arrival, escorted by several guards, some protesters rebuked him with shouts of “criminal,” which triggered responses from his supporters, with shouts of “trash” and “traitors.”

Towering over the shouting, Ben-Gvir urged them to “continue fighting” until “victory, which is coming,” without making any mention of the hostages. During and after his presentation the arguments continued, with some hitting and pushing.

Without reaching that point, almost no minister was saved from disapproval. Three people showed the Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, signs that read “his blood is on your hands” during an event in Tel Aviv; and the Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, also from the most radical wing and opposed to a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, was confronted by the mother of one of the kidnapped people, who demanded that he fulfill “his duty” to achieve their release. of the captives.

They are signs of the wear and tear that is beginning to weigh on a large part of Israeli society, which is increasingly questioning Netanyahu's leadership, in the face of an invasion of Gaza with no end in sight. And that is echoed among some Israeli generals who, according to the Hebrew press, consider that the premier's lack of strategy is causing the army to return to combat in areas of the strip from which it had withdrawn.

This is the case of Jabalia, in the north, which since Saturday has been the scene of brutal Israeli bombings and direct clashes between soldiers and Palestinian militiamen. There, the tanks have returned after three months, also due to the regrouping of Hamas members. Much of the area, home to the largest of the Palestinian enclave's eight refugee camps, has been reduced to rubble, even more so by renewed airstrikes and artillery fire. According to health authorities, at least 20 bodies were recovered there in the early hours of Monday.

With hardly any time or safe place to flee, residents and refugees in the area continue to escape through the ruins, carrying their few belongings in bags. “We don't know where to go. We have been displaced from one place to another. We are running through the streets. I saw with my own eyes the tank and the excavator on one of the roads,” a woman told the Reuters agency.

Another resident told Efe that "the occupation forces are now trying to lay siege and break into the six refuge centers located to the east of the camp" of Yabalia, where "there is drone and sniper shooting, forcing the displaced to leave."

At the opposite end of Gaza, in Rafah, the landscape is similar: the bombs and projectiles have spread to more central areas and around 360,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced to try to shelter from the offensive. Hamas claimed that a foreign United Nations worker was killed in an attack on a humanitarian convoy, which the Islamist group attributes to Israel but for which there was no confirmation from the UN. Another blow to humanitarian operations in the strip, which risk being paralyzed in the south due to the Israeli blockade of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings.