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Last week
Last uploaded : Tuesday 30th Aug 2005 at 19:54
Contributed by : Noamm Gavrieli


Last week, Israel started the long awaited and feared withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, despite the fierce protests of many thousands of people who came to mass demonstrations like the one in K`FAR MAIMON two weeks ago. A few thousands of them managed their way in to the Strip, which has been closed by the army, to actively appose the historic move. The government sent every available police officer and soldier to perform the delicate task with ?REGISHUT VE?NEHISHUT? -sensitivity and determination.

But that?s not all. There was a third power that gathered in the strip in great numbers, armed with the latest technology - the media. Ever since Sharon announced it two years ago, the disengagement has been in the front page of all the papers, every single day. Politics, protests, preparations and speculations and now it?s the moment of truth and it seems like there is nothing else happening in Israel (for example an army officer killed himself in strange circumstances on Wednesday ? I only know this because he was my brothers? ex commander).

All day live reports from various settlements in GUSH KATIF destined to be evacuated, talks with the settlers and the soldiers, commentators on the tactics of both sides with 3D imaging of the things to come, live feed to the veins of the silent? majority of Israelis (me included) glued to the television for the best show in town.

But not only the audience, but also the players taking active part in the drama were informed through the media. One of the pictures I remember most was of a family, watching live, the truck carrying a container, in to which they will have to pack their house, come in to ?NEVE DKALIM?. They said they?re having trouble seeing the pictures as real. It?s like a scary movie.

But that is also true for the other side of the struggle. A close friend of mine who is in the air force and has been chosen for the hardest task of the whole operation, removing people from their houses, told me that in the field in order to know what?s happening tomorrow the best thing to do is not to ask your commanders, for they don?t really know anything you don?t, but to open the paper and see what?s planed in your sector (and if you wanted to know what?s happening now the best thing was to look for the popsicle man ? ?as long as there was nothing to do there was always someone going around handing out popsicles. If there are no Popsicles it means that there is something happening and you need to get ready?).

But the information is not even half the story here ? as soon as things actually started on Tuesday, the screen was filled with heartbreaking pictures of people being dragged out of their houses kicking and screaming, men, women and children, crying, hugging the soldiers who, from their point of view, have come to do exactly the opposite of what the uniform they wear represent. You see people who with all their hearts believed that god will not let this happen; whose whole reality is being shattered ? they want to walk to the bus waiting for them but they can?t bring their body to comply.
As impolitically correct as it is to say, and with all respect for the pain of the people involved - This is television at its best ? powerful, dramatic, real.

The media are milking the story to the last drop sometimes with the insensitivity of paparazzi, zooming in on the tears of female soldiers broken by the slander and accusation hurled at them constantly by the settlers or on those of babies crying in the arms of their suffering mothers.

Sometimes it looked to me as if the cameras were drinking the tears and feeding on the pain.

This was supposed to be a good show from the beginning. As soon as the numbers on both sides were counted the outcome was decided. In negotiations, the army and the settlers agreed that there will be no tricks on both sides. My friend told me how they were standing on the gate of the settlement NETZER H?AZANY, waiting for a bulldozer to come and tear it down, and he asked why don?t we just go around the gate through the fence? ? It would be much easier. He was answered that according to the agreement, the army is to come with great force through the front door ? the pictures are important ? the symbolism.

In about two weeks all this be over and Israel will have to deal with the new situation created by the disengagement and the problems it created ? of the people who lost their houses and their jobs and of course the million dollar question - what?s going to happen in Gaza now that Israel is not there?
Unfortunately these stories, though they will have their moments, will be half as exciting as the disengagement itself and the media will have to look for its thrills elsewhere. But I?m not worried. In this crazy country there is always something going on.


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