An open letter to Khalil from Gaza
by Boaz Kantor
Do you know how alike we are, you and I? We’re both 30 years old; we both have 7-year-old daughters. We’ll both go to sleep tonight with the women we love, not before tucking our daughters in under down comforters, because it’s starting to get chilly.
Both of us will kiss our daughters on the forehead, go to bed and hug our wives, you in Gaza and I in Tel Aviv.
Before we fall asleep, we’ll both think of the next week at work, and the onerous responsibility of providing for our families, feeding our children, and, more importantly, making sure our wives know we’re real men, right, Khalil?
We’ll both probably think about sex and once again fall asleep only thinking about it.
We’re utterly alike, Khalil, but there is something different.
Your daughter will die tonight.
You won’t find out about it in the morning. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night to a deafening explosion. Your whole house will tremble. Parts of the ceiling will fall on you. You’ll run to your daughter’s bedroom, and find the northern wall gone, your daughter lying on the broken floor, a charred husk.
But don’t worry, Khalil my man, she wasn’t burned alive. The shock wave killed her instantly, before she caught fire. Does that make it any easier for you? No?
Afterward, a guy will show up and introduce himself as Jamil, and he’ll start photographing her.
Now, before you get angry at the Zionist pigs who murdered your child, let’s talk about Imad, your neighbor.
You remember that he came to ask you for a loan a year ago? Yeah, I know you’d have given him the money if you had it. But don’t worry, he managed. Someone offered him 2,000 shekels a month, to rent one of the rooms in his house. So last year, without your knowledge, one room in Imad’s apartment was filled with Kassam rockets.
You know, those two-meter-long tubes containing about 10 kilograms of explosives?
So, in this room were 50 of these rockets. And this room, Khalil, shared a wall with your daughter’s bedroom. That means that every night, she laid her head on a pillow next to half a ton of explosives. How did you sleep quietly at night? Imad didn’t tell you?
But wait, don’t get upset at Imad. He’s experiencing financial difficulties, and all he can think about is providing food for his children. He was desperate. Jamil, the guy who pays the rent, convinced him that the room was just a warehouse, and no one would use the rockets. So forget Imad. Let’s talk about the rockets for a second, and understand why they’re bad.
What are rockets, Khalil? A rocket is like a bullet. Wherever you aim it, that’s where it’ll hit. Only, unlike a rifle, it has an engine that burns all the way and extends its range. The Kassam, for example, can go for about 20 kilometers.
How do you aim a gun at a target 20 kilometers away? You can’t. You hit approximately. And to make sure you hit your target, you fire 10 rockets together. We call it a “volley.” Rockets are used when you don’t care what you hit. Fire a bunch toward a city, and hope that something will hit a kindergarten. This is known as “terrorism.” And Israelis don’t like terrorism.
Call us crazy, but we want to keep our civilians safe.
A Kassam rocket at Kibutz of Nir Am, near Israel’s border with Gaza
So we spend millions of dollars on missiles, which are kind of like rockets, only they’re accurate, and they allow us to hit the warehouses full of rockets and launchers. We could fire rockets and shells in the general direction of those targets, but then we’d risk hitting many of your civilians. And we don’t want that. So we fire very costly and very accurate missiles at your rocket warehouses. And unfortunately, sometimes little girls sleep with their heads against those warehouses.
But wait, before you get angry at the missiles the Zionist pigs used to kill your daughter, let’s talk for a moment about Jamil.
Jamil is a Hamas activist. His role is to locate “warehouses” such as Imad’s, and see to it that rockets are stored in them. That’s it. We call it a “logistics officer,” but that’s a bit different. Jamil received some special instructions: First, that warehouses mustn’t be close to one another. Second, that they be in residential neighborhoods. Next to kindergartens. Next to hospitals and the homes of the elderly.
Adjacent to your daughter’s wall.
And you know why? Because Jamil doesn’t really care if your daughter dies. In fact, he’ll be the first on the scene with his iPhone to film her burnt body and upload it to YouTube. As they did on the first day of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Now you can get angry. Yes, at Jamil.
But Khalil, my friend, it’s not enough to be angry at Jamil. You need to get angry at Hamas. It’s your sovereign government, and it decided on this strategy. Hamas invests most of its resources on militarization. In warehouses next to your house. In rocket-launchers next to hospitals. And it’s doing all it can so that civilians will die. Yours, as well as ours. Hamas must be removed.
But how does one get angry at Hamas? Think Internet. Think friends. Think demonstrations. Think dissent. Think criticism. Think organization. Think a blog. Think interviews with the media. Think that Hamas must fall and that you deserve a government that sees you, your job, your future — and your daughter — as top priorities.
Think of your daughter. Think peace.
I assure you that when you stop aiming weapons at us and instead extend to us a hand of cooperation – that’ll be a morning when your daughter wakes up to a day that will build her future.
And it starts with you, Khalil.
This post originally appeared in Hebrew as a Facebook status update. Translation by Ethan Shalev and Gal Barkan.