While Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher) was one of many actors who were vocal about their support for Palestinian statehood during last summer’s 50-day war between Hamas and the IDF, he had since remained relatively silent on the issue, until Aug. 31 when he tweeted a link to an online petition calling global leaders to "lift the Gaza blockade."
Like much of the rhetoric where Israel is accused of war crimes, there is no mention of Hamas' involvement in the conflict throughout the petition.
In response, several Israelis who reside in Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip, have called on the actor to come and visit the city to see what it’s like on the other side of the border, where they are subjected to an ongoing threat of rocket attacks and violence.
In an interview with The Blaze, 24-year-old university student Chen Hana Elmaliah invited Ruffalo to Sderot in order to gain a different perspective on the issue. “I invite Mark Ruffalo to come to me for [Sabbath], to live all day in the bomb shelter, 24 hours — and you can’t go out because of rockets — and then say what he thinks about the closure of Gaza.”
Elmaliah added that while she understands Ruffalo’s intention of helping the Palestinian cause, there is also a chance he’s being biased about the conflict. “It’s really easy to see only one side,” she continued. “There’s a horrible terror organization ruling there for years.”
During the months of July and August, 2014, an estimated 3,824 rockets were launched toward Sderot. Residents have an average of 7 – 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter.
Moria Hagbi, a 24-year-old teacher, told The Blaze that if the Gaza blockade were to be lifted, the barrage of rockets to her doorstep would only get worse.
“When I hear the banging of a door, I get scared. This means my situation is not normal,” Hagbi said. She too is sympathetic towards the Palestinian people suffering in Gaza, but noted that there won’t be any change in the region until Hamas is replaced as its governing body. “I have no faith in them,” she said.
According to the IDF, they have allowed over 1.3 million tons of construction materials into Gaza since last summer to reconstruct schools, hospitals, houses and roads, though they’ve done so with much trepidation that Hamas will use the materials to rebuild the sophisticated infrastructure of terror tunnels that were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge. According to several reports, the IDF's fears are warranted.
In a video unleashed to the world last month, Hamas depicted many of its fighters training in tunnels, which were either rebuilt or restored since last year. The IDF estimates that each tunnel costs approximately $3 million US to create.
“Each tunnel Hamas built robbed the Palestinian people of potential homes, mosques, school and medical clinics. Even today, Hamas continues to invest millions of dollars in restocking and rebuilding its weapons cache rather than investing in Gaza,” the IDF said via a statement released in July.
“It’s unfortunate that the Hamas regime chooses to invest its resources in terror rather than the welfare of the people of Gaza,” IDF spokesman Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner added.
According to Elmaliah, “The problem with people like Ruffalo is they don’t understand that the moment a terrorist organization rules there and if Israel doesn’t get involved, the situation there will become more dire.”
“I think the world – actors, politicians, citizens – they choose to be innocent and to close their eyes. It’s really easy to point a finger at Israel and say we’re not OK,” she said to The Blaze. “We also want to live. When they send us missiles and suicide bombers we have to defend ourselves. Everyone has the right to defend himself.”
Ironically, on the same day Ruffalo tweeted his support for Gaza, some 677 trucks carrying supplies made its way into Gaza. Furthermore, according to the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, just yesterday 23,000 tons of goods were delivered into Gaza, including medical supplies, food, and construction materials. Other bits of information pertaining to the Gaza border crossing are often posted on Twitter accompanied by the hashtag #GazaDailyActivity.
With prominent actors and musicians ranging from Mariah Carey to Kanye West having visited Jerusalem and Tel Aviv this past year, Ruffalo surely wouldn't be the first celebrity to make his way to the Holy Land, if he chooses to accept Elmaliah's invitation.
Sderot, however, is no Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.