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    Posted October 14, 2014 by
    Eshkol Region, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    New violence in Israel and West Bank

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    Ban Ki Moon Comes to Nirim


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Kibbutz Nirim, Israel, on Tuesday to meet locals who survived heavy rocket fire from Hamas during the Israel-Gaza conflict. Adele Raemer, an American by birth who lives in Nirim, was one of the handful of people to meet the UN official.

    “It was a great honor to meet him,” Raemer said. “He was very empathetic and seemed sincerely concerned with the well-being of people on both sides of the border. He gave me the impression of being a very gentle, even-tempered person who knows how to listen.” These photos were taken on October 14.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, came to Nirim today to listen to the people who lived through this conflict. There were about 15 of us who came to speak. You can see us in the photos, above, as we waited nervously to be admitted into the communal dining room of Kibbutz Nirim, which had been transformed as the venue for this occasion.


    All of the participants who were invited to come and speak, are people who live in the different communities along the border of the Gaza Strip, in the western Negev. We have all been through an extremely trying and tragic summer. We all had equally compelling, important stories to tell. Unfortunately, due to pressures from the Secretary General's assistants, only two actually got the opportunity to make themselves heard. The grandmother of Daniel Tregerman spoke, as did a resident of Sderot.


    The Secretary General said that he knew war from close up, as a Korean. He empathized with us, and said that the children of our community should have the freedom to run around freely on our lawns without fear of rocket attack. He expressed concern for the trauma that the residents - especially the children -  have experienced. He also recognized Israel's right to defend herself, and assured us that the money donated to Gaza will not fall in the wrong hands. (Do I believe he can actually follow through with that? Who knows... the eternal optimist in me wants to believe him...)


    Part of what he said can be heard here. http://bit.ly/BKMNirim


    What follows is the text with what I had intended to tell him, but did not get the opportunity to. As he bid each of us farewell, I placed it in his hand, and asked him to please read it. I guess I will never know if he actually read it. I hope so. At least I will have my say here.


    At any rate, it was an honor to host him here on Kibbutz Nirim.


    Welcome to our humble community dining room. My name is Adele. I was born in the US but I have lived here on Nirim for 39 years – all of my adult life. I married here, raised my children here.


    When I first came to live here, this was the most quiet, peaceful place in the world – as it sounds today, the day of your visit. We used to pile into a van and go to the beach on the Gaza shore, then pop into the market to buy wicker furniture. A Gazan man built my home in 1996 - not all that long ago.


    Ever since I came here, I have known about a song that the people who live here wrote, about how the day will come when we will be able to go to Han Yunis to see movies in spoken Arabic, to bring the guard tower from the kibbutz over to the Gazan shore, to be repurposed as a life-guard tower. The people of this community have always, and still do, want to live in peace with their neighbors.


    This past summer was a nightmare – for the people living on both sides of the border. My heart goes out to the people of Gaza, who have been wounded, lost their lives, their homes. I have no doubt that the Gazan people also want to live in peace, to put food on their tables, have safety and security for their children.


    As do we.


    However, it is unacceptable for us to be living in a situation as we have been living for over a decade, with the threat of Hamas rocket fire, and concerns that noises we hear below our feet at night could be the digging of another tunnel of terror that will enable Hamas terrorists to infiltrate our community, our homes – popping up in the middle of our kibbutz, spraying the children playing outside with automatic gunfire, taking hostages.
    It is unacceptable that my newly-wed daughter be afraid to raise a family here – both she and her husband are the third generation on Nirim.


    It is unacceptable that our friends from this kibbutz lose their lives and limbs, simply trying to restore our electricity, which had been knocked out by Hamas rockets.


    It is unacceptable for the Hamas to hold both the Gazans, as well as us, hostage, as they did this past summer.


    I am hoping that someday soon I will hear that the people of Abasan or Han Yunis have written a song, pining for the day when they can live in peace with us, their neighbors in Nirim. I am hoping that the people of Gaza will soon have something to live for rather than just having something to die for.

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