The decreasing moon slowly appears behind a cloud while I sit outside trying to put my thoughts into words. For the first time I am struggling to find the appropriate words for a post. Admittedly I embarked in the complicated job of describing the situation in Israel as I am living it from this little kibbutz in the north of Israel. It's hard to write because the situation is complex and the international news seem to be telling only one side of the story, because the feelings of being here get mixed with the opinions which were so easy to spit out once I was at home.
I type and delete, type and delete, frustrated. There is something odd in the air, some kind of electric tension. Over the past few days, the news talked of a land attack in Gaza as a realistic possibility, especially after an incursion from the commandoes in the night between Saturday and Sunday. I wonder if they are getting ready to go just now, as I give up writing and get ready for bed.
This morning I realised that what struck me last night was the silence. Save the whoosh of the cars on the road and the odd dog barking, the night was perfectly silent. In the past few days the low growling roar of military planes from a nearby base has been the constant soundtrack of our everyday activities, so much that I almost didn't notice when it stopped. I wonder what that may mean: are they going in, so they stopped incursions from the sky? Or are they easing the bombing on Gaza in the unlikely (or so I thought before watching the news) perspective of a ceasefire?
In little more than week the situation escalated from a few rockets and consequent retaliating Israeli air strikes into a full-blown war whose expenses are been paid by civilians, mainly in the Gaza strip. I am sure that most of you will be familiar with the images broadacast by the main international media and as of today the numbers of casualties is incredibly high. Even considering the Israeli claim that Hamas is inflating numbers, I think that after 8 days of strikes which hit over 1000 sites (IDF figures) on their territory the life of civilians in Gaza is dire. And probably without much hope of improvement.
On the other side of the border, Israeli civilians are sleeping in shelters or have left their houses, seeking hospitality in the north of the country. School and summer camps are closed and everyday life activities are disrupted. Overall, the number of Israeli casualties is much lower (the first death just occured) which is often used to demonstrate the brutality and excessive force of the Israeli attack. Don't get me wrong: the Israeli power of attack is disporportionally stronger than any defence in Gaza. Furthermore, Israel possess a very efficient defence system- the Iron Dome-and sirens to alert its citizens of imminents attacks. This and the shelters have played a crucial role in limiting the number of casualties. I find incredibly rich the way foreign media portrays the Israeli efficient protective system almost as an additional element of guilt: why shouldn't a country who had been at war since its establishment do the best they can to protect themselves (and I am talking only of the pure protective system)? In my opinion, media should compare the number of attacks or the extent of each part's arsenals because that is a more objective measure of the difference between Israel and Hamas. That and the fact that Hamas is using civilians as a shield. Current opinion is that the majority of the missiles are stored under civil buildings such as houses, schools and hospitals, which are consequently targeted by the Israeli airstrikes. Yes, they tell in advance to allow civilians to evacuate the area but they often do not have anywhere to go or- according to Israeli media- are discouraged from doing so by Hamas.
Today it seemed there was hope for a ceasefire brokered by Egypt to whom Israel agreed very quickly but which hasn't been respected by Hamas who had fired rockets the whole day and partly rejected the ceasefire. Israel, as announced, started airstirkes again in the afternoon. If on one side reacting to fire with fire is just further increasing tension and is not going to fix the problems in Gaza on the long run, on the other Israel can't afford to sit and watch while half of its territory is under the threat of rockets which disrupt everyday life and forces civilians in shelters.
As you can see, it's a very complicated situation and it's hard to take a stand. Heck, it's hard to describe it in an impartial and objective way! Due to the distance from the main areas of conflict I rely mainly on watching the news-the BBC, the Israeli news and some German newspapers which Sophia reads- to keep up to date with the situation. Right now, I feel deeply for this beautiful land and I wish from the deepest recess of my heart that sometime and somehow there will be peace in Israel. In the space of a few weeks I fell in love with this land, burnt by the summer sun, yet blossoming under the hard work of her inhabitants, torn by conflicts and contradictions, and with her skies so luminous they hurt my eyes.
Here in Giv'at Oz the situation is calm. They opened the shelters and showed us where to go just to be ready. Also because there were some rockets from Lebanon and Syria. Today the siren went off in a kibbutz 20 minutes from here for a rocket from Gaza-everyone in the kitchen was very surprised because rockets from the south never hit so far away. If the siren goes off here we have 1,5 minutes to get to the shelter if it's coming from the Syria or Lebanon (give or take my time for a 400m) and possibly 2-3 minutes if it's from Gaza. Surprisingly, I am not freaking out. I am alert and keep my eyes open but I am not scared every waking minute. Life in the kibbutz goes on and I go with it: I find that can forget about it while I am at work or spending time with people.
Here is it, the hardest blog post of my life. Never I felt so intensely that my words were falling short of my feelings than while writing this post. The situation has a miriad point of views and the more you look into it, the more complicated it becomes.
I apologise if this posts has offended you in any way. I am always sincere when I write here and this is no exception. I wrote down my feelings and my thoughts about this unique situation I am in because I felt that sometimes people from outside don't quite understand how we live in Israel. These thoughts are jumbled and mixed with the conflicting emotions which inevitably come with being inside a situation rather than observing from outside. But I wanted to share them with you.