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    Posted July 13, 2014 by
    Eshkol Region, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

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    What Keeps Me Strong


    I live on a kibbutz in Israel, on the border with the Gaza Strip. This is the 6th day of Operation Protective Edge. We have rockets and mortars being launched at us on a daily basis now. We have the disconcerting noise of tank fire booming morning reveille, as well as frequent helicopter gunships fire exploding from above our homes (in fact, I can hear it now, as I type…. it sends my heart racing). Most of the people in my community have left, but I have chosen to stay behind.


    It isn't always easy - but for me, leaving would be even harder.


    Humans are pack animals. Communication and collaboration is important to us. I am always a communicator; in times of conflict, even more so. Despite the fact that I spend most of my days on my own, contact and communication with others is what gives me strength. I believe the same goes for most people.


    For example, since the beginning, the What’s App groups with my colleagues are used to share concerns, fears, information and jokes. It keeps me strong.


    The Facebook group “Life on the Border” provides an opportunity for whoever lives in the shadow of rockets, to depict what life is like for them at the time, and for others, a chance to read about it. (We just started a “game” of showing off who has the best saferoom.) That’s another thing that keeps me strong.


    In our community, although many have left for safer pastures (especially those with young children, who cannot currently go outside safely to play) we hold small daily get-togethers in an above ground shelter. Most of those who come there are the elderly who have stayed behind, preferring as I do to stay put in their homes as long as possible (because the imagination is more frightening than reality). Indeed, from past experiences, (2009 and 2012) I have learned that, while it is not pleasant to live here during times like these, feeling like a duck on a shooting gallery, it is preferable to being far from home. So I go, and help provide a hang-out for these people who settled and built this place. Yet another thing that keeps me strong.


    Friends, family, and colleagues (some barely acquaintances) have spoken to me on the phone, and emailed me - offering support, expressing concern, inviting me to come “take a break” from the hostile environment of incoming missiles, and spend some time with them. That’s right - you got it! More acts of kindness that keep me strong.


    When I walk the relatively deserted paths of my kibbutz, and see even ONE other person passing by, on a bike, by foot, or in a car - I feel more secure. Or when I see through the window that my neighbors have returned to their dinner table after a Red Alert.  It gives me courage. Silly, really. But there you have it.


    We all need “our people”. That is why I stay - even though I COULD go - to be here for others, as well. And THAT’s what keeps me strong.

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