On Tuesday, 23 Gaza children traveled to Israel for a day trip at the Gan Hashlosha National Park (Sahne) near the town of Beit Shean.
The event was organized by two Israeli humanitarian organizations and received the backing of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The participants crossed into Israel at the Erez checkpoint along the Gaza border and from there were brought to the Gan Hashlosha National Park for a day of recreation and activities. On COGAT’s official Facebook page the unit reported the event – and expressed hopes that there would be many more such trips organized to visit Israel.
But the notion of bringing tourists from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip appeared to rouse a great deal of opposition among Israelis.
Among the many negative responses to the post were comments like “I can’t believe the IDF would do such a thing.”
Another comment wrote at length, chiding the IDF for caring more about Gaza children than Israelis suffering from poverty.
“Dear IDF, it pains me to say this, but I’m embarrassed by you. You speak so highly about Jewish ethics, yet forget that those ethics teach us: ‘[Help] the poor of your own city first.’ That same code of ethics says that the enemy is the enemy, and that a Jew, by virtue of who he is, is your brother. You, dear IDF, what do you do? You take the children of the enemy who in another month/year/week/two years will turn the knife on you and drive it into your neck. These are the same children who are the future ‘martyrs’. This idea of humanitarian actions and looking to find favor in the eyes of the enemy and the nations of the world, this is the way of thinking that led many of our fellow [Jews] to the Nazi ovens.”
A spokeswoman for COGAT emphasized that the trip was authorized only after careful consideration of possible security issues.
“The cooperation [with the trip organizers] came only after the security establishment assessed and authorized the trip.”