It’s been quiet in the center for some time now, and I think many of us here were getting too comfortable with the fact that Hamas is running low on long range rockets. Though they have absolutely bombarded the South of Israel since breaching the ceasefire on Monday (over 300 rockets have been fired at Israel since then), everyday life has remained relatively stable in the center. Thankfully Stephane’s mom and little brother are still in France for a few more days, but the rest of his family remain in the battered southern region.
I should have known there would be an attack here. Hamas is getting desperate. Israel has eliminated most of their top military personnel, and it is very likely that the assassination attempt on Hamas’s military chief, Mohammed Deif’s life was successful. They are getting so desperate, in fact, that they have started killing Palestinians believed to be collaborators with Israel. No one knows, of course, if the 18 Palestinians killed today were truly collaborators, and certainly they didn’t get any sort of justice, but they did get a very public execution. 6 of the 18 killed were dragged from a Mosque and shot in front of worshipers. The others (including 2 women) were taken to a public square in front of an abandoned police station, bound with ropes and head coverings, and were shot in front of the public. Of course the assassins hid their faces like the cowards they are.
I should have known there would be an attack here. There were escalations all day indicating something would soon happen. Threats made by Hamas claiming they would start an all out war, threats made by Hamas claiming they would hit our airport, and horrific attacks in the south that left countless injured, including members of a congregation in Ashdod who were struck by shrapnel as a rocket hit their synagogue before the Sabbath. Stephane and I checked to make sure it wasn’t the synagogue his grandfather and uncles frequent every week, but knowing they were safe didn’t take away from the fact that other grandfathers and uncles were hurt both physically and mentally.
It was around 6pm, and Stephane and I were relaxing and watching some TV before preparing our Shabbat meal. Thinking we would be rocket free I decided to stay with him this weekend since we wanted some time just the two of us and he lives alone. He doesn’t have a bomb shelter. He had worked all morning, and I had been busy starting on some research for school, so we were really appreciative of some down time before dinner. It didn’t last long. As we were laying in bed, fans blaring to lessen the severity of the summer heat, the shrill screech of the red alert sirens started to blare.
We jumped out of bed, I just had time to grab shoes, Stephane barely had time to grab a pare of shorts, and then we were out the door running through his garden to his landlords property. Stephane didn’t even have time to put on a pair of shoes. As the sirens blared overhead we barely made it to the shelter before the first rocket exploded. After a minute or so the second explosion sounded. We waited the required 10 minutes, had a lovely, albeit stressful, conversation with his landlord and her children, wished everyone a Shabbat Shalom, and then walked back to Stephane’s apartment. We will be sleeping with shoes by the bed tonight in case we have to make a quick escape again.
When we returned home and checked the news we discovered that this attack was coordinated with a barrage on the south that injured many people and killed a poor 4 year old little boy as mortars struck his kibbutz near the Gaza border. He didn’t get a warning to leave his house. His parents didn’t get a text message or a warning shot before their residence was attacked. There can be no comparison between this little boy and the children who are killed in Gaza despite the fact that so many will try to belittle his death in comparison to the Palestinian children who have died. All innocent fatalities are beyond any concept of tragedy, but on one side they are at least given a chance and some amount of hope for survival. On our side we have no such reassurances, and should Iron Dome ever fail I shudder to think what the outcome will be. Thank goodness our government has invested in bomb shelters that we have access to. Maybe Hamas should start doing the same, or at least opening some if its tunnels to civilians. But then what would they use to rally western support? I guess they could still revert to their normal tactics of stealing pictures of dead innocents in Syria and Iraq, especially with the terror trail that ISIS is forging, but people are starting to catch on to that form of propaganda.
I have a feeling we are going back to war. I don’t see how it can be avoided. The term ceasefire has started to mean “we cease and they fire”, diplomacy is failing all over the board, and I do believe that the only way to restore quiet to Israel and kick start peace talks is to finish Hamas for good (as ironic as it sounds to carry out war in the hopes of peace). I asked one of my bosses who just returned from the reserves in Gaza if there is anyway Israel could evacuate civilians from Gaza and bring them to neighboring Arab countries giving Israel a chance to finish Hamas without risking the lives of civilians, and he told me they tried that during the Gaza operation in 2008, and every neighboring Arab country turned the Gazans away. They really are trapped, completely isolated from the Arab world by Hamas, but that doesn’t change the fact that Hamas is a threat to both Israel and the Palestinians, and they are a threat that has to be eliminated. In fact, a plan was just discovered that proved Hamas was planning a bloody overthrow of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and tensions between the two groups have been extremely rocky. There is no chance of peace while Hamas exists as a political entity.
I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, and I miss you every second of every day. I love you more than I can express and I hope you keep watching over us from up there.
Until we meet again <3,