Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thoughts From The War

Here is a photograph of some of my friends' children on Thursday night. They look happy enough for the camera but they are in fact sheltering from an incoming rocket from Gaza. They spent much of that night, and every night,  in this glorified coat and broom cupboard which is their safest room.

Where they live, on a kibbutz in Southern Israel is a place I've visited many times. Twice I've written about caught up in a rocket attack. Here with DD and here when I was pregnant. Since writing these posts the kibbutz has suffered a direct hit.

And on Wednesday, before Israel went into action, I posted a heartbreaking  video clip of a children's party in the park that turns into horror and panic as the CODE RED is sounded. That clip was from four years ago so you can see that this is not something recent. Obviously it wasn't a recent video as parties in the park, or even a quick swing and a go in the slide, are a thing of the past for these children - far too risky as it involves being more than 15 seconds away from a bomb shelter.

Over 12000 missiles have been fired on Israeli civilians in the past 12 years. Seven years ago Israel left the whole area of Gaza. We have no military presence in Gaza. 21 communities left their homes, farms, green houses and factories to help the Gazans achieve a thriving economy. Israel continued supplying water, gas and electricity to the region and work permits for Gazans who have jobs in Israel. For their part they continued firing the rockets at Israeli civilians.

This week the rocket fire was escalated once again and the people in the south were at breaking point - which is why I published my post on Wednesday. On Wednesday evening we fought back. By Wednesday night I am reading and hearing on the BBC and CNN about Israeli aggression.

The footage of the assassination of terrorist Ahmed Jabari clearly shows that the IDF waited until his car was clear of other cars and isolated before they shot. At other times it's more difficult to isolate the targets as missiles are fired from residential buildings and the stores of explosives are often hidden near schools and hospitals. Nevertheless leaflets like this (in Arabic) have been dropped by the IDF and loud warnings are broadcast before buildings are targeted. I read on the BBC that Israel are firing on Gaza "with scant regard for civilian life." Ask the residents of Southern Israel what that feels like!

Our Prime Minister, who is accused of cynically starting a war to enhance his chances in the January general election, rather chose not to prolong the suffering of the southern residents until after the election that he pretty much had in the bag - but that may change if this all goes horribly wrong.

Bibi Netanyahu is quoted this week saying: If Israel lay down its arms it would be destroyed and its citizens murdered. If the Arab States lay down their arms there would be peace in the Middle East. I've heard this quote before but could anyone argue against it?

Last evening the siren went off for the first time in Jerusalem. I quickly turned off the oven, grabbed my front door keys and my 4yo daughter (who wasn't wearing any shoes or socks) and we rushed out to shelter under the stairs in the communal stairwell. There we met my neighbour with her 3yo and baby. Her husband and older son were in the shower. When the siren stopped after about 2 minutes we went back inside. Later she came down to tell me that instructions are to stay in the shelters for 10 minutes after the sirens.

Last night I told DD that she was sleeping with me. She insisted that we both sleep in her bed - my bed is better as my bedroom is largely internal and recessed except for the 5ft of wall with the window in it and her room has three external walls. But I gave in. She also wouldn't wear socks in bed so I slept in a big cardigan over my pyjamas (for a bit of modesty if were to meet the neighbours under the stairs again) and a pair of thick socks for DD in my pocket. I also hung the front door key on the front door handle for easy grabbing.

All evening I thought twice before going the the loo and I didn't dare shower. I also went a bit manic with 'sharing' information on fb and twitter. And I stuffed my face with all manner of unhealthy food. I may be a little stressed.

DD keeps asking me about that 'game' when we had to run outside. "But why did we play that game?" and "Are we doing it again? When?"

There are supporters of Israel who understand the situation. I ask myself what is the rest of the world thinking? Do they want us to take the slack so as not to inflame the situation in the Middle East and possibly drag in the rest of the world? Well we allowed our civilians to be fired on for 7 years after we pulled out of Gaza. Enough is enough.

I ask myself why we just don't turn off the water, electric and gas supply to Gaza until they stop firing missiles into Israel. But I know that we won't make the entire civilian population of Gaza suffer like that because of Hamas. At the moment we are targeting the enemy only.

There have been casualties and fatalities, on both sides, including children. There is no difference on either side to a mother who has lost a child. There is a difference between aggression and defense however. There is a difference between constant attack and retaliation delayed until it was just unbearable.

And if anyone is still unsure what it's all about, just watch this 5 minute course on the Middle East Conflict.


  1. Oh Darling I read every word of this. I am so sorry if the BBC is writing anything other than the truth.
    I am glad we have your voice.
    Lots of love.
    Stay safe.
    Love you,
    Liska xxx

    1. I think some of the problem is that the world's press in hiding out in Gaza City's five star hotel as this is by far the safest place in the region - and everyone knows it.

  2. Replies
    1. yep but #Israel is trending on Google plus and I just came across this:

      It's a map from 1946 to 2010 - can you open it/see it?
      What do you think?

      Liska x

    2. I can't open it from here, can you send me the link on twitter? Thanks.

  3. I have no answers and I don't know what to think, all I do know is how much I hate it that countries end up in this situation. Thinking of you x

  4. There seems to be terrible stories on both sides - heartbreaking


    1. Of course there are casualties in Gaza now that we are defending ourselves. As I said, we try to target known terrorists and weapon stores but it's not easy when they placed among civilians. It is heartbreaking that an innocent baby and his, most likely, innocent family have been caught up in this. As soon as the rockets stop coming from Gaza we will stop retaliating. We cannot stop before and go back to over a million Israelis living on the brink of nervous breakdowns. This has to be sorted out once ans for all or that baby's death (and the death of the baby in Kiryat Malachi in Israel two days ago) will have been in vain.

    2. Thank you for replying. Stay safe x

  5. I don't even know what to say, everything is inadequate. I pray for solutions and peace.

    Mich x

    1. Amen to that Michelle. For all my opinions all I can rally do is also pray for solutions and peace. And I do.

  6. I don't know what to say either. I read your wonderful piece with great interest...and concern. And watched the video. The perception here, I have to say would be Israel at fault, but I DO NOT know enough about it and really appreciated your insights. YOU live there. NOT us.

    please be safe.... thinking of you.

    xx Jazzy

    1. Thanks Jazzy. If you want it spelled out read Melanie Philips - her articles are simply the truth.

  7. Excellent video. Hope you stay safe. M o worried Xx

  8. Diane and Conor in Cary, North CarolinaNovember 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Hi M.L.S.M (those are my son's abbreviations for your name! Hope you like it! Anyways, my 10 year old and I read your blog together and I have commented from time to time. My son watched both videos in Religious School yesterday here in Cary, NC. His morah described his friend (and talked to him on the phone) at the Haddassah Hospital, all the 5th graders wished his friend well who was a reservist wounded at the border on Shabbat. This kid who is 20 years old went to our temple here in Cary. He has younger brothers in middle school with my son. The oldest one who was wounded, exercised his birthright, and now a student and a reservist. We are 4,000 miles away and the kids are saddened and scared. Every year we look East and say next year in Jerusaleum. It is important to defend ourselves, but it is easy for me to say that in the comfort of our home without rockets raining down on us. My son hopes that you and DD are OK, and maybe he will say hello to you in 2 years on his aliyah/bar mitzvah. Stay safe....

  9. Diane and Conor in Cary, NCNovember 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    M.L.S.M. - my son said that is important for you to show pictures of Jewish kids on your blog so that everyone can remember that Israeli kids die too, not just the ones in Gaza....This N.C. Mum thinks I have a very wise son...shalom.

    1. Hi Diane, I love it that you and your son are reading my blog together. Thank you for your comments and your support. And I hope we will meet one day when you come to Israel. xx