- Posted August 3, 2014 by
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This iReport is part of an assignment:
When Hamas Lands in Your Backyard
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
I live in a peace-loving community on the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. I have lived here since 1975. We have our very own “Peace Song” that was written in the 1950’s which, even then, sang about how someday there will be peace on our border, and we’ll “drive to the cinema in Khan Younis to see a movie in spoken Arabic with Abdul and Wahaab”. Our community has been pining for peaceful, neighborly relations with those on the other side of the fence, just about a mile away, for decades.
Despite our wishes and hopes and desires, we have been living in the shadow of deadly rockets and mortars from Gaza for the past 13 years. We have learned to be careful. We have learned not to take unnecessary risks. We all know that a rocket can be shot off at any time. Any time the terrorists have the opportunity, whether it be during a period of escalation (like now) or a period of quiet.
For the past month the rockets have been coming fast and furiously during Operation Protective Edge. Families with children have all left the community. Having ten seconds to get to a safe-room or take cover when you hear “Code Red” (warning of incoming rockets) is not a place where you want children playing around outside. It’s not a place where you want ANYONE to be outside.
We in this community all have safe-rooms in our homes, which were built by our government out of reinforced concrete in 2011. Yesterday afternoon, I was in my house, with my son who was home on leave from his emergency reserve duty, when we heard the “Code Red” alert. We ran to the safe room, and were amazed. The first thing that surprised us, was that neither of us made it inside before we heard the explosion. We just managed to make it to the entrance. We went in anyway, and closed the door. The second shock to our senses was that we realized how horribly close the blast was. I thought it sounded exceptionally loud because we were outside of the safe-room. But no - it WAS close. Around 100 meters close, according to my son who went out to check.
What he saw was a lot of people crowded around someone who had been badly wounded by the blast, and an ambulance and a stretcher. After a few minutes he returned to tell me. I was worried sick. Was it one of the soldiers who are here to protect us? Was it one of my neighbors? I tried sending text messages to different people who are one degree away from the hub of things (the wife of, and such) trying to get a handle on who it was that was injured.
Aside from the soldiers who are stationed here for the emergency, the only people around these days are those fulfilling essential roles to keep the kibbutz running and the older members - the founders of this kibbutz. The older we get, the more reluctant we are to leave our homes, even temporarily. It is understandable that my golden-aged neighbors would rather not relocate, however, they also have the gut wrenching challenge of moving quickly enough to get to their safe-rooms within the 10 seconds - or even less - that are needed to do so. Some of them are in relatively good shape. Others, with their canes and their walkers, couldn't sprint to save their lives. Literally.
The wounded man is 77 years old. We’ve been friends for almost 40 years and he worked with my late husband. Both of my sons worked with him in the fields at one time or another. He is the husband of a former school colleague, the father of a former student, the grandfather of a current student, and a member of my community. I had dinner with him the other night. I was with him not 30 minutes before the mortar exploded and riddled him with shrapnel as he was on his way home, with less time than usual to find protective cover.
All I knew last night, as I went to sleep, was that he had been rushed to the hospital in serious condition. I have no idea what the prognosis is. I feel horrible that, after learning that someone had been injured, his wife was one of those to whom I sent a text message, asking if she knew who was wounded. I went to sleep with the heartbreaking knowledge that he was probably fighting for his life. He is, even now. This is a turning point for me. This whole thing has just gotten even more personal. More threatening. More frightening.
Every time our special song of peace is performed here, the man who was almost killed by the mortar last evening, is always one of the singers. I look forward to hearing him sing it again, soon.
PS For those of you who read and understand Hebrew, this is the link to the song: