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    Posted March 14, 2014 by
    Eshkol Regional Council, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

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    When Your Kids are on the Front Line


    When Your Kids are on the Front Line


    It’s Purim, the holiday of happiness, rejoicing and fun, commemorating when the Jews were saved from destruction at the hands of a Persian ruler (today’s Iran…..am I the only one who finds that horribly ironic?).

    Purim – the holiday of fancy dress, laughter and dancing, is in full swing here in the Eshkol Regional Council, in the western Negev. Preparations for this evening’s Purim parties on the kibbutzim on the region are going on as usual. We are decorating our communal dining room, practicing our skits and performances, putting last minute touches to our costumes. But not one of us is sure that the festivities will actually be happen. When there is serious threat of incoming rocket fire, the Home Front send out word prohibiting more than 20 people to gather in a public, unfortified place. Our kibbutz dining room is not fortified.


    Unfortunately, although last night was “relatively quiet”, the tension in the air can still be cut with a knife. Instead of enjoying the Purim spirit, we are being forced to deal with more basic survival instincts, compliments of the Jihad and other Iranian-back terror groups.

    So what really happened last night after the Jihad / Hamas announced that they had decided upon an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire? Twenty more rockets were shot at the settlements around the Gaza Strip Environs as well as our larger southern cities.


    The Eshkol Regional Council updates us regarding the situation and decisions that are made in light of it. Yesterday school was open, but only 50% of the high school kids showed up. Can you blame them?

    Since it is Purim, today is the day when the elementary school children all go to school in their costumes. It is the ONE day of school that they ALL look forward to! The ONE day when nobody complains, teachers don’t ask for homework, nobody feels sick in the morning. As with Halloween, children plot and plan for weeks, if not months, what they will wear to school for Purim.


    Yet school-bus time is an especially sensitive time – those who would do us harm know the hours when we take our children to the school busses. Helicopters hover above, military escorts from the different communities wait with the children at the bus stops and accompany the busses to school, all trying to give the illusion of protection. Of course none of those “precautions” could stop an incoming rocket. And it is far from an atmosphere of normalcy. Those of us who live here remember all too well the yellow school bus that was targeted three years ago. A pupil was killed. The only saving grace (albeit not for the family of the pupil) is that it was AFTER the bus had already dropped off tens of other schoolchildren – otherwise… can you imagine? Too horrific to even consider! This is what parents who live here, fear. Any parent’s worst nightmare.


    Our border schools are fortified. If there is an alert, the children do not need to run anyplace: as long as they are inside their classrooms, they are safe. But it’s the “getting there” that is scary. I wouldn’t want my child in a vulnerable bus in this atmosphere of falling rockets.


    As far as the Regional Council site writes, school is commencing as usual today, as well. It is important to keep the routines of our lives as much as possible. But this is putting our youngest at risk. Would YOU let your child go to school on a day like this? What would you tell your child? How would you explain the hours in the safe-rooms the past two nights, and convince them that this morning it’s ok to go on with their routines?


    On the other hand: it’s Purim! How could you stop them?




    Note: The oxymoronic juxtaposition of the photos posted here: shots from this morning of children from different communities in the Eshkol Regional Council, getting dressed up and going to school despite the still-real threat of rocket fire, pretty much sums up our lives in this region. Our kids are the real superheroes of today’s Purim story in the Western Negev.

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