“In The End It Is The People Who Pay The Price For Their Rulers’ Cruelty”



I went to the Gaza Strip as a young journalist to see it for myself. I didn’t know much about the history, the wars, the culture. But I knew that it mattered, I’d heard about it my whole life, and I wanted to understand.  It was then, and remains, a confounding, unforgettable place. A tiny sliver of land sandwiched between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea; 40 km long and roughly 7 km across. Its population is the equivalent of Brisbane – 2.4 million – but Gazans live in an area forty times smaller than that city. The Strip is crowded, and the atmosphere breathless. 

I ended up living and working in Gaza City as a foreign correspondent, and reporting for the BBC. Flashes of my time there come rushing back, whenever events there burst into the news again, as they did in an unprecedented way last week. Since Hamas fighters broke out of Gaza into surrounding communities, family homes, kibbutzim, even a music festival inside Israel itself, killing 1300 and taking hostage 200 more, events have cascaded.  An Israeli bombing campaign has killed an estimated 3000 Palestinians in Gaza. One million Palestinians have been herded away from their homes in northern Gaza. US President Joe Biden has travelled to Israel. Attention has turned to Iran, which sponsors not only Hamas but Hezbollah, too. Anti-semitic attacks have risen in Europe.

"This is a crisis at scale, fast moving, and ever more deadly."

– Kylie Morris, former foreign correspondent in Gaza

The family of a young man who was killed by Hamas militants at Kibbutz Be’eeri grieve during his funeral on October 12, 2023 at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel.

Gazans are no strangers to aerial bombardment by Israel (although 6000 bombs in six days is unprecedented). When I lived in Gaza, there was a rhythm to the conflict. Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters would stage an attack on Israelis at the border, or fire rockets at Jewish settlements; or a suicide bomber would detonate himself on an Israeli bus. Then Gaza would prepare for the air assault that would inevitably follow. Families knew the drill. They would get in food and fuel for generators. Charge phones and devices while there was still power. Store water. Workers would head home early. And wait.

Now, there’s an even sharper sense of injustice – with settlers moving into the West Bank, empowered by the Netanyahu government; an ever-weaker Palestinian Authority; a continuing blockade; and a complete absence of any peace process.

"Now, as then, there are competing narratives of who is to blame. But in the end, it is the people who pay the price for their rulers’ cruelty and revenge."

– Kylie Morris, former foreign correspondent in Gaza

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Read Kylie Morris's piece on the current crisis in Gaza at PRIMER.


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