Samson in Gaza

January 4, 2009

Gaza was the place where, in Biblical times, the Jewish hero Samson took up with a harlot. That was before he met Delilah and, succumbing at last to her charms and tricks, revealed the secret of his strength. Shorn of his curly locks while he slept, Samson lost his superhuman strength. He was taken to Gaza and blinded by the Philistines with a white-hot poker. But his hair, and his strength, gradually grew back unnoticed, and at last Samson pushed over a pillar in their temple and brought the building down upon them, killing many. Or so the Bible story goes.

After 38 years of military occupation, Israel handed Gaza back to the Palestinians in 2005. But it has not led to peace. Hamas Islamist militants opposed to the Jewish state in 2007 ousted those Palestinians disposed to make peace with Israel, and have fired crude but potentially lethal rockets into the land lying to the east for months, in a constant skirmish with the Israelis. Israel struck hard with an aerial offensive a week ago.

Now, as the battle unfolds on 24-hour satellite television, you can check out the Gaza Strip on Google Earth, an impressive view from space of this cramped slice of land, shaped like a dog-bone along the southeast Mediterrean Coast. It’s small, it’s tightly built-up. It is bordered by fertile sleepy Israeli kibbutz villages of citrus groves and roads lined with eucalyptus trees. And fields now churned up by Israeli armour.

On Saturday, an Israeli pilot in an aircraft too high to identify inscribed enormous contrail circles in the blue sky over the Strip — one, two, three, four, until it looked like the Olympic rings or an Audi badge. They were visible even from Jerusalem. They were still hanging there, losing definition and dissipating slowly in the evening as the sun went down, turning the sky markers a warm pink.

Was this was some enigmatic sign? Who knows? But Saturday saw the heaviest bombardment of the Israeli offensive, by air, land and sea, from dawn till after dark. And before midnight everyone had the answer to the question of the hour. Israel launched a long-anticipated ground offensive.

Israel has not permitted foreign journalists to enter Gaza via the crossings it controls. Reuters’ team of television cameramen and photographers, and the agency’s lone text correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi, have had little rest and no reinforcement from outside. That has so far proved impossible. Israel’s Route 232 running north-south a few kilometres east of Gaza’s 40 km border – you can see it clearly on Google Earth — is a closed military operations zone, access barred by many police roadblocks and patrols, and, deeper in, by military police. Most TV crews must film the bomb blasts from a distance, talking on their mobile phones between air strikes and fiery blasts.

Probing too far in the direction of the Gaza border is pointless. The army has barred the road with concrete blocks and heavy steel barriers in places where civilians are not supposed to go. A Humvee full of soldiers is in no mood for conversation and wants to see papers. “Do you have a camera?” is the first question. The .50 calibre machine-gun on the roof swivels automatically, its field of fire displayed on a video-screen inside the armoured vehicle. “Do not come back here,” says the young officer. “It is dangerous.” The gun points at the little car.

But the real danger is a couple of kilometres to the west, in Gaza, where yet another column of black smoke mushrooms upwards, Saturday’s umpteenth. The death toll in Gaza is over 500. On Route 232, the odd banality of war is on show. A migrating flock of impressive geese lands in a luscious green field to feed, honking contentedly as another distant bomb thumps the air. Further south, black-winged buzzards wheel over the livestock pens of a remote kibbutz, spying something there to eat.

(An Israeli Apache gunship flies over the northern Gaza Strip after firing a weapons system January 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled in Gaza on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the most serious fighting in the conflict in decades. REUTERS/Nikola Solic (GAZA))

(Smoke rises after an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip January 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled on Gaza City’s outskirts on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the worst fighting in the conflict in decades. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (GAZA))

14 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Please just let Israel defend itself against Hamas.

Here is part of the Hamas founding charter:

* Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant states the following: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Cedar tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslem).

Finally, someone who is giving the background on this story. The allusion to sampson though is a bit strong. Israel “hair” has never been cut. Hamas has openly teased them into war, and now the world cries out for a stop to the “invasion”.

Imagine if it was your hometown that was being bombed, imagine you can’t go to school for fear of rockets, and now imagine you are not Arab, but an Israeli.

People can go on and on about Israeli occupation of Gaza, but Gazans elected Hamas – whose main purpose is the destruction of Israel – in a land-slide victory. They have tested fate and are living with the consequences.

Aid and supplies should definitly be allowed into Gaza as soon as possible. But good luck getting Hamas to adhere to any sort of peace agreement. They will fight until all the innocents in their care are dead.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

What’s funny is that Israel and the USA decided to attack Hamas before the elections. Hamas is not a terrorist group, they were voted in democratically by the people of the Gaza strip. They wanted Hamas to represent them, yet the USA and Israel continue to call them terrorists?

Hamas is like Hezbollah, you cannot stop a social movement, I’m sorry Israel but you don’t exist in my eyes, you never have. The country is still called Palestine and you will be ousted.

You cut Gaza strip off for 2.5 years, you’ve created a ghetto there like Hitler did to your own people, and now you’re surprised when you destroy their mosques, universities, police HQs, etc? They will fight and I will continue to fight since I have a voice and my people in Palestine do not. ISRAEL WILL PAY FOR THEIR WAR CRIMES IN THIS LIFE OR THE NEXT!

Posted by Jalal | Report as abusive

Imaging your country stolen 60 years ago by someone who came out of the blue and told you that GOD gave it to him few thousands years ago and the you are placed in refugee camps and then besieged where no food, medicine, electricity, gas is flowing. Imagine that you elected a party in a democratic election to find Israel and the west tell you ‘’oh no.. you cannot select that option..” and then they punish the population by blockade and killing ..

Ehud Barak who is Israel defense minister was asked few years back what would he do if he was a Palestinian… he said he would join Palestinian resistance groups…

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive

i find it funny how the world is watching this genocide take place. Its no wonder we have terrorist groups in the world. we create them. we created hamas, hezbullah, all these other so called “terrorist”group. look at what we allow to happen to their people. killing people in schools and hospitals?? really, i would love to hear the excuse for that one. this is sick and disgusting. what choice do we leave them. we steal their homes and land, cut them off from the world, occupy their lands and violate their most basic human rights. all this, for what? some camp fire story?? sickening

Posted by phillip | Report as abusive

why are people pretending that this conflict just started out of no where? israelis are saying “oh imagine, what you would do if you had some rockets fired at you”? well what would israelis do if they lived under 60 years of occupation. 60 years of check points. 60 years of the worst humanitarian crisis on earth. 60 years of being cut off from proper food and medical supplies. 60 years of having your homes and lands illegally taken from you. don’t think the world is not aware of the long list of crimes against the israelis. hamas is a product of your own creation. you createed the rockets, and suicide bombers, and these resistance groups. and now you will just create more.

Posted by raj | Report as abusive

I do wish just for a moment that we could all lay down religious beliefs and pick up humanity, humility, faith, hope and charity in that order, maybe then we could begin to come to an agreement as to what is a good solution for all the world. So far solutions are based in creed, culture, wealth, position, power never it seems to ne in humanity. That leads me to think that man needs a war of some sort to appease his own.

Posted by hopesome | Report as abusive

Its time for an international intervention force to invade Israel and stop the genocide.

Where is the international community now? In former Yugoslavia a.o. they did not hesitate to intervene, but now everybody looks the other way.

Israel should be stoped immediately. Today the Israelis massacered 40 innocent people in a school seeking shelter.

Why does the international community let this holocaust of Palisitines continu?

Posted by Jean Paris France | Report as abusive

Hello – As a moderate Canadian – I am getting really tired of the bombings that have been going on in Israel all these years – and then when it has gotten so people cannot take it anymore they fight back and the world goes SHAME – I say shame on the people who do not stop the unwarranted bombing simply because of religion – I believe people who have left the region for whatever the reason – and want the bombings to continue in the cause of religion should go back and live in the bombings themselves – oh and give up their passports of their adopted country as well. Please remember we are all humans first – however we pray is our individual choice and not yours to bomb because we are different in our religious beliefs – You left what is now Israel by choice now turn to the governments who encouraged you to leave and live in poverty. Ask them to feed you – to give you jobs – give you medical coverage – to give you the minimum to live with and try looking after yourself and your families and let others do the same – and maybe you might just get along for a day or two – Just leave the bombings out of your life…..

Posted by Susan Argue | Report as abusive

a lovely piece. the images on tv are heartbreaking. when will it stop?

Posted by Leila | Report as abusive

once again the media has reduced israeli war crimes against the palestinians to some small prints and soundbites. reuters which normally is one of the better non-biased reporting agency has reduced it to the fourth of fifth in line of headlines. meanwhile the typical american media has pushed it towards the end of the backburner on all their news outlets. when they do report on it, they some israeli official commenting on the matter, and what do they say? ” oh we are concerned about the loss of civilian life, and its all hamas’s fault”. really is hamas the one blowing up mosques, schools, and hospitals?? is hamas killing women and kids? we all know who the real terrorist is. the entire world knows who the real terrorist are. its not hamas, its hezbullah. its the stooges in israeli government and u.s government. they are the modern day hitlers.

Posted by rodney | Report as abusive

The israeli rationale for all of these atrocities is utterly ridiculous. They have expelled palestinians from their homes using terrorist tactics that started even before WWII; long before either Osama or Carlos were born;they bombarded palestinian homes and civilians with American made F16 and Apache choppers, they have cutoff the West Bank and gaza from the rest of the world controlling their water supply, and now they still have the audacity to claim that the palestinians are a threat to their existence! This is the real genocide.Darfur pales next to what Israel is doing! The Samson Delilah mythology is a suitable delusional background to this Tragedy-Comedy daily series. Then existence of Israel is based on such myths; lies and fantasies. As Abraham Lincoln said, you can’t fool all the people all the time. It is high time for the real Human Rights supporters to stand up, if they really do exist.

People worldwide do see through Israelis government lies. The first two days of bombardment in Gaza it was convincable that they were after the Hamas militants. After that, Israel are bombing left and right, schools and hospitals, and they continue to excuse their actions. You can tell the UN are not too happy with the Israelis either. I believe two if not more UN aid workers were killed by the Israeli millitants. Also, UN gave Gaza cilivans choices of shelters that were promise them to keep them safe, however, Israeli thought it may be fun to throw bombs at the school shelter. The more criticism Isral recieve from the outside, they become even bigger bullies and hinting the world they are allowed to break international laws. Well, what do you expect from such animals!!! Oh, almost forgot, Israel block basic esentials such as food and medicine going in Gaza, which is why we have the truce broken. There is an ongoing list of inhumane treatments from Israel treating the Gaza cilivans.

Posted by subreen | Report as abusive

We in the the UK were bombed by the IRA justly or not does not matter the truth of it is that only through communication did it stop the RAF did not reduce Dublin to rubble did not attack Catholics indiscriminately and the differences have been resolved. No weapon made can kill frustration only love and a one world belief will solve this.
After 7/7 the Nottingham Muslim Centre said ” not in my name on their placards to Israel I urge its citizens to cry out “NOT IN MY NAME”.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive