- Posted July 25, 2014 by
Eshkol Region, Israel
This iReport is part of an assignment:
New violence in Israel and West Bank
Holding our Breaths
As the days go on, this Operation Protective Edge is feeling more and more like a war. It is developing and changing so much that each day seems longer than 24 hours. I have learned that everything in this situation is “fluid”. My life is “fluid”. I sometimes feel that if I were any more “fluid” I would turn into a waterfall.
Here on Kibbutz Nirim, one mile from the Gaza border, we are running less. Two days ago, we had “only” one “Red Alert” warning for incoming rockets. Yesterday we had more - one even caught me outside, and I had to “hit the deck” covering my head with my hands, putting my fingers in my ears in case it was really close, and really loud. (It wasn’t.) But the time it took for it to land seemed the longest 10 seconds…….
We still hear tanks and artillery cannons thundering nearby from time to time. We might have an hour when all is quiet, where my heart can go back to its normal rhythm, and then BOOM - the big guns abruptly, and without warning, resume blasting. They ambush me in the middle of a meal, violating the otherwise silent surroundings, and there goes my appetite. (War diet. Some people eat when they are scared and nervous. Others lose their appetites.)
But for the most part, now, it’s the soldiers who are in the spotlight. They are now more in harm’s way than I am.
They come from all walks of Israeli life. Literally. Rich and poor, Ashkenazi (Jews descended from European heritage) and Sepharadi (Jews descended from Spanish /Iberian descent), Druze, Ethiopian, Kibbutznicks, Moshavnicks, North Tel Aviv and development towns.
When I gave birth to my first two children, I was relieved to learn they were females. When I found out that my third pregnancy was with a male fetus, I cried. Then I berated myself: in any other country, I would be rejoicing. But in Israel, having a boy implies that 18 years later, I would be accompanying him to the draft office (I cried then, too). We keep telling our children that by the time they reach age 18, there will no longer be a need for an army. Year after year, decade after decade, war after war, we continue to let our children down.
So now our sons, and husbands and fathers are in the land of the people who declare their sole goal in life is to wipe us off the face of the earth. We have sent them in, to hunt out tunnels of terror that pop up near or in our communities; to seek out the rocket launchers buried deep in the ground, in people’s backyards, or from side streets embedded in their cities with civilians in harm’s way. Our boys, whom raised with love. The boys in whom we instilled our morals for protecting and cherishing life. All life. So much so that they warn the residents of a targeted neighborhood before going in, so that innocents can retreat, giving those who wish to kill them time to prepare. Making their jobs even more perilous
As someone who has been the front line of until now (and am still being shot at) I am feeling almost as helpless as before. But now, in a way, it’s worse, because the casualty counter is rising, and all we can do here is watch them go in, try to show our appreciation by feeding them, doing their laundry, and making them feel appreciated.
We watch them get ready to go in to protect us. We watch the reports of brokering ceasefire reports. And we hold our collective breath.
Note: the photograph was taken by my friend Arnon Avni, an used with his knowledge and permission. It is near our kibbutz fence: a line of soldiers two hours before they began to march, at sunset, on the Gaza-Israel border.