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    Posted August 6, 2014 by
    Eshkol Region, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

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    Time to Come Home?


    I live in a small community (kibbutz) on the border with the Gaza Strip. We just finished the 29th day of Operation Protective Edge.


    The tanks and artillery have ceased their thundering. The blaring Code Red alerts, and the ear-piercing beepers warning us of incoming rockets are no longer sending us scurrying to the reinforced safe rooms or taking cover near the closest wall… or just throwing ourselves down on the ground and covering our heads if we were caught outside - you only have 10 to 15 seconds to take cover before the explosions. However, the ceasefire has held for 14 hours already. It is night time - even the birds have gone to sleep and it is so quiet outside that I wonder if maybe I have gone deaf.


    So far it looks like the ceasefire is going to hold long term.


    Now comes the time for the next dilemma for those of us who have not spent the past 29 days living in a war zone: the families. Our community emptied out of children on July 9th. For the third time in six years they were all sent to a safer place where they could have their summer, rather than being stuck in their houses near their safe-rooms and being afraid of going outside. Warmly hosted by Mishmar Haemek, a kibbutz in the center of the country out of rocket range (albeit even they had a siren once during this war) they were able to go to the pool, go on day trips and have summer camp. Do what kids are supposed to be doing during the summer: playing tag with each other as opposed to running for their lives from rockets.


    The problem is that many of the families are now reluctant to bring their children back to the border. Although nobody can promise us that there will no longer be rockets, we have lived with rockets (and worse: mortars, whose only warning is 2 or 3 second shriek before they explode) for 13 years. It is unacceptable to raise children with the fear of incoming rockets lurking in the back of our minds 24/7.


    However the game-changer will be the silent threat: the tunnels. While we have known about the tunnels for the past two years, nobody, NOBODY estimated the extent, the number and the complexity of the potential cities of terror being dug under our feet. How can a mother be sure that she is bringing her most precious commodity back to a community where a terrorist will not pop up from under the ground and kidnap or spray anyone in sight with bullets? What does the government have to say, in order to return the residents’ belief in their family’s safety? What can the army do to ensure the families that their homes, their children, are safe?


    This is the conundrum that is keeping parents awake tonight.


    The attached photos were taken this morning. There are no children playing in the playground yet. Hopefully, the little ones will populate the swings and play yards again, soon.

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