Between May 13 and May 21, Adina Horwich, who made aliyah from Montreal in 1975, kept a blog of what was happening recently in Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, or Shomer HaChomot. Below are excerpts from her blog, which can be read in its entirety, along with more recent entries about everyday life in Israel, at jewishpostandnews.ca.
I write from my humble apartment in Jerusalem’s East Talpiot (Armon Hanatziv) neighbourhood. We sure have had our share of troubles, some stabbings and terror attacks in recent years, which have resulted in a number of fatalities. Surrounding us are three not-exactly-friendly Arab villages: Jabel el Mukaber, Tzur Baher and Um Lissun. My place is a mere five minutes’ walk from them.
Late Monday afternoon, I heard a siren wailing. As that’s a regular occurrence around here, I didn’t pay it any mind. Police frequently patrol the area, so I wasn’t alarmed. After it persisted … I decided to sneak a quick peek at the TV. On the upper right corner of the screen, Home Front Command ran a list of cities, warning residents that they were at that very moment being fired upon. Jerusalem appeared.
My building, built in the ’70s, has no proper communal bomb shelter. From my experiences in 2014 with Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge), while my son was doing reserve duty in Gaza, I knew to calmly open my door and join other neighbours in the stairwell.
I spent the rest of the evening glued to the news of much of the rest of Israel being relentlessly bombarded, including Jaffa, where my daughter resides, and Acco (Acre), where my son-in-law works.
Next morning (Tuesday), I woke to more bad news of overnight shooting and the firing of hundreds of rockets, inflicting great panic, shock, fear, injuries, extensive emotional and material damage on hundreds of innocent civilians, old and young, Arabs and Jews alike.
This whole week I sit comfortably, in surreal, fantasyland silence, yet less than two hours away, my fellow Israelis are running in and out of bomb shelters. Some of the casualties didn’t make it in time, including a female elderly caregiver from India. The TV flashes, blares eyewitness accounts, some with bloodied bodies, of sleepless nights, ambulances unloading the injured, hospital staff describing the nature and seriousness of the victims’ conditions. Sombre announcements of victims’ names.
I want to hear and see everything. The endless analysis offered by a slew of commentators and reporters (including a married couple, parents of an infant), all of whom themselves are in the line of fire and haven’t slept in their own beds for days.
Minute-by-minute dramatic reports, progressively worse and horrific by the hour and day, are too much to process. Graphic images of the riots and vandalism that erupted in the so-called mixed cities, pogrom scenes of burned shuls and their desecrated contents, of the unraveling of the hard-won, good working relations (some even social) woven between the Arab and Jewish sectors are devastating. Invasive footage of shattered and scarred dwellings, peoples’ entire homes in disarray with their owners milling about, lost and disoriented.
The very least I can do is stay tuned and attuned to the plight of thousands around Israel, try to feel their fear, anxiety, pain. The rehabilitation they’ll need to undergo, the post-trauma symptoms that will surely ensue. The stamina and perseverance they’ll need to muster, to brace themselves for chasing the authorities to grant compensation, be it to assess their homes or to evaluate their mental or physical state…. It might take years to even have their claims heard, let alone see any money. Where will they live in the meantime, how do they replace their possessions, clothing, furniture, appliances? How will shopkeepers rebuild their businesses, earn their livings?
I hope they have strong support systems and get all the help they need. I wish them a hefty dose of resilience, of faith and confidence to overcome this tragedy.
In five hours, we’ll begin the Shavuot holiday…. Advance plans for a long weekend to join my daughter housesitting at a desirable Tel Aviv location were scrapped last Thursday. This daughter is scrounging around for a night or two’s lodging, making the rounds, as she can’t go back to the Jaffa apartment she moved into, just six weeks ago, just yet. I popped out to the local supermarket, in my car, now stripped bare of the Israeli flags that have adorned it since Holocaust Memorial Day…. I was advised to take them off, which I did, reluctantly.
On the car radio, I hear how residents of Ashkelon send their praise, cheer on, salute the Israeli Defence Forces and whoever else in the city is doing their utmost to protect them.
On TV, a reporter visits the maternity ward at Ashkelon’s Barzilai hospital, interviews a woman awaiting the birth of her baby. Will it be amidst rocket fire? The normally high level of anxiety at such a time, absolutely “skyrockets.”
Mass demonstrations against Israel are happening across the globe. Who are these people? Have they any intelligent, informed opinion about this crisis?…
Talk and more talk of a ceasefire. My foot, in a pig’s eye, fat chance!! So much for the 6 a.m. deadline. That’s been postponed until tomorrow, maybe…. Polls of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot residents show that the majority want this to go on until it’s well and truly over…. Similar findings are reflected among the general Israeli public, who, for a change, have just finally begun to realize, once and for all, how it feels to be under siege, how people of the south have been feeling for 20 years.
The electric company’s workers decide not to enter Gaza to repair damaged or fallen electric lines until, unless the bodies of Shaul Oron and Hadar Goldin are returned….
Vital organs from the Jewish man killed in the Lod lynch are transplanted to four or five recipients; one’s an Arab. The Arab man who rescued a Jewish one being beaten by Arabs visits him in the hospital.
Families band together to cook. Armed with steaming, overflowing pots, they head out to makeshift bases to feed troops in the south. Singers, entertainers visit people huddled in bomb shelters. Morale is, as in hockey terms, “gathering speed.” Things are looking up, even as throughout the day rockets continue to pummel down [from every direction].
My sleep was disturbed by what sounded like gunfire, but was probably fireworks, set off by “celebrants” of the ceasefire they consider a victory…. How many rockets should be tolerated? It’s a given there will be more…. Hamas is not a sovereign nation, nor a nation at all, but a recognized terror organization that represents nothing and no one, but its own barbaric agenda. Yet, it has garnered so much support from “civilized,” “enlightened” countries, that shower Hamas with financial and moral resources. They’ve engaged us in this savage war on a civilian population for years. Nowhere else in the Western world would this ever be remotely tolerated….
Chazak v’amatz (Be strong and brave) Am Yisrael!