After a night of missiles on the south of Israel (last Wednesday), I got up to a new day, full of missiles.
My nerves were frazzled. But why? Nothing happened to me. At night I had reset the RED ALERT app so that it wouldn’t alert me of all the missiles on my country, it would only sound the alarm if missiles came to Haifa.
I allowed myself the luxury of sleep – something the people of southern Israel did not have. Everyone who lives in proximity to Gaza has safe rooms in their homes but can you really sleep when you have to move your entire family into one room and you hear sirens and explosions around you all night long? Can you sleep knowing that the Iron Dome missile defense system works most of the time but not always? It knocks most of Hamas rockets out of the sky but no system is perfect, sometimes it misses and every missile interception means the missile explodes in the air, dropping boiling hot shrapnel from the sky. Wherever it hits, it hits.
What right do I have to have frazzled nerves?! Watching your people suffer is not the same as suffering yourself.
I cry when my friend in Be’eri tells me how hard it is for her to breathe because of the arson terrorism. The smoke permeates the air, so much so that she needs to use an asthma inhalator, something she hasn’t had to do for years. I lived through one day of arson terrorism and I will never forget the fear and the choking stench of the smoke. She has lived through months of it, with no end in sight. I cry but it is she, not me, who is having a hard time breathing. It is she, not me, who is worried about the long-term health damage to her family, constantly breathing air that, to some extent or another, depending on the whims of Hamas and the direction of the wind, is poisoned.
The images racing through my head were scenes we have seen too many times before – wives saying goodbye to men, going off to war. Mothers, trying not to show too much emotion when they watch their men walk away, not wanting to burden the men, trying to not frighten their children.
The media doesn’t show the other images, of the military personnel knocking on the door to notify families that their beloved son, brother, husband will never come home again. I know what those scenes are like… enough bereaved parents told me what they experienced.
That terrible phrase that sounds so innocuous to people who don’t know Israelis. That phrase that makes those who are naturally flamboyant, fast and loud become quiet and serious: “It wasn’t an easy thing…”
The worse the situation is, the less dramatic Israelis will be. “It wasn’t an easy thing…” comes before descriptions of what it is like to try to administer first aid to your friend as they bleed to death in your arms. Or returning to consciousness after a bomb goes off and seeing the pieces of your friends strewn all over the place….
I don’t want to hear those words. I don’t want to see Israelis quiet or somber.
We all know the war is coming. It’s only a question of when. We actually had thought it was going to happen earlier but whatever is happening behind the scenes on the political level is keeping the attacks on a low flame rather than a full-blown war.
I don’t envy our Prime Minister. Whatever decision he makes, lives are at stake. Israelis are suffering now, how many will suffer later?
The seemingly indecisive political maneuvering, again and again agreeing to terms dictated by a terrorist organization is sickening. We all know this weakens us in the long term, emboldening our enemies. On the other hand, we know the IDF can beat Hamas – the problem is, what happens after? Who takes over Gaza? What happens with Iran in the north? We all know that the current situation is terribly wrong but who knows how to fix it?
We have one son who is an Officer in the IDF. His base is in the south. He says that he is ok and has a proper shelter to go to when missiles rain down but who can promise us that he will get to shelter in time?
His younger brother gave a year of his life in pre-military voluntary service (which does not count as part of his military service). Soon he too will be inducted into the IDF but, if the war starts now / soon / in the next weeks / months, he will be in training and not be in combat.
His friends will. It is their parents, not us, who will be on edge every time the phone rings, every time they see a military vehicle close to their house and if, God forbid, they see soldiers walking up to their door, unannounced.
On Thursday, I walked next to the beach in Haifa. It’s summer and many families came to relax and swim. This is what people should be doing on a hot summer day – not huddling in a bomb shelter, waiting for the next explosion.
We all knew that it wasn’t likely that missiles would come raining down on us. Not that day. What will happen tomorrow? Who knows?