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    Posted August 9, 2014 by
    Eshkol Region, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

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    Welcome Home - Part II


    I live on Kibbutz Nirim, less than a mile from the border with the Gaza Strip. Four hundred people usually live here.  The children of this community were moved to more secure places on July 9th. That’s when so many Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets and mortars began falling and blowing up at a rate that was just too dangerous to allow children to play outside safely. Indeed, it became dangerous for any of us to carry on with our normal life routines.

    Yesterday, Friday, they were supposed to have returned home. We prepared a celebration, special t-shirts announcing that “We will not give up on Nirim”, each of us knew what to do and what to prepare. As the Friday morning 8:00 end of the 72-hour ceasefire approached, tensions rose. Hamas had threatened to renew shooting deadly rockets and mortars at us. The clock struck 8 a.m. and as the 72 hour ceasefire ended, so did the relative quiet (although actually, two rockets had already been shot at us at around 4 a.m.). WIthin minutes rockets were again exploding in our region. As the “joke” has gone all along there’s a new definition of cease-fire: “We cease, they fire.” Plans were changed. Only a small percentage of the families who had planned to return actually did. The meal was bittersweet; the celebration only partial.

    Today, Saturday, something changed. It’s not that the shooting has stopped: it hasn’t. Two rockets were shot at us during the morning and blew up, but missed us. Additional explosions could be heard during the day. But people decided that they had had enough of being away from their homes, away from their beds, away from their friends. And they came. Not everyone - but the vast majority. Not with complete certainty that bringing their children back was the right thing to do (and in fact, as I peek at the online updates, there are a few communities on the border, like ours, who have decided to revoke their decisions to return the families). But our meal together was joyous, celebratory, and with the sounds of lots of children’s voices - pleasing sounds and sights that that have been missing in our landscape for the past month.


    Here’s hoping that those who have just returned, and those who have been here all along, remain safe.

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