The Israel Palestenian conflict is always a headlining issue, but this week, tensions are particularly high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. For the past few weeks, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have fought in Jerusalem’s Old City and led to the morning of May 10, where militants in the Gaza Strip had fired thousands of rockets toward Jerusalem for the first time in years, and Israel responded with airstrikes. Most of the missiles were intercepted by Israel’s defense system, but some of them hit and damaged schools, hospitals, and took away the lives of civilians and children. Without a prime minister, the Israeli people are feeling unsure of how this will be put to an end. Our hearts go out to anyone with family in Israel currently hiding in bomb shelters, and are praying for their safety.
Student Response #2 Click to expand
Click HERE to read a Kehillah student submission published by New Voices.
To sleep or to write? It is the first quiet night for me this week but I want to write. I feel a need to frame this post. It is one person’s experience from one day of a crappy situation. Israelis will correctly note that a week from now I will be on a plane and they–especially those near Gaza–will continue to live this reality as they do when every one else, including Israelis further from ‘the strip’ stop paying attention for the time being. Others will say that this is just ‘one side’ – what about the Gazans whose day was much scarier? I say that it is not even one side, it is just one person – me. So what’s the point? Mostly that it was a scary, disturbing day and I like to process things by writing. But also because I want my FB friends who are consuming these events mostly through media and political advocacy to hear what one day–and far from the worst of it–in this craziness is like.
Two thoughts repeat themselves that do touch on the issues of “who’s to blame and what to do.” The first, is that everyone in this situation has agency. What does agency mean? It means that at each stage, each party can decide what to do. No one is forced into a single path by the actions of another. So whatever I think about Sheikh Jarrah or El Aqsa or election manipulation (and I think a lot), the decision by Hamas to rain down thousands of rockets and thus attempt to kill thousands of civilians is a choice…and not the only choice they could make. These rockets will not save a single Palestinian life or make a single life better so I think one has to ask why…and most reasonable answers are not very pretty. Second is the phrase from airline safety briefings “put your oxygen mask on first and then help others.” No functional, interconnected, modern country can absorb this kind of disruption for long. Israel will always “put its mask on first” whether that is right or wrong by any particular ethical view.
I drove from Kibbutz Shoval this morning, thinking about my 4 year-old cousin and his fear of the constant “booms” and how we all explain that they are booms from our soldiers against the bad guys. That is only partly true but what is more concerning than the white lies is the early education that the people 20 km away…whoever they are…are the bad guys. Like many aspects of this reality, it is generally the wrong thing to do but once you’ve reached this point it is also the only thing to do.
The barrages proceeded North parallel to my route such that I only heard them on the radio until I reached my destination beyond Tel Aviv and enjoyed a lovely and peaceful coffee with friends then headed out looking forward to the cooler air of the hills around Jerusalem and their distance from Gaza.
The radio was issuing warnings of more rockets and as I drove I was trying to figure out if they applied as they encompassed more of the Tel Aviv metropolis (yes, locals, I know the app can warn me based on location but I have had issues with the app!). Finally I determined that I was in one of the areas read off the list, pulled over and hopped into a cement ditch near some other motorists. I counted the minutes as directed and after consulting with my ditch-mates hit the road again, always keeping an eye out for the place I would stop if there was another “color red”.
Reports quickly came in that a rocket landed in densely populated Ramat Gan and they interviewed the owner of two shops that had been destroyed who had no concern for the shops but was thankful that, apparently, no one was hurt. By the time I swung East out of Tel Aviv that was preempted by news that a man has been killed by the blast, standing in an unprotected entryway.
Mostly, I was keeping an eye on the map as I was just outside the zones being called out but also knowing that I was coming up on the juicy target of the airport and figuring they wouldn’t directly name it. Finally it became clear that my route and the Hamas ops officer’s plan had met up so I hopped out again and, with no attractive structures nearby, just lay flat on the ground. Another car stopped behind mine and a couple and their daughter lay near me. The daughter was crying uncontrollably and praying. There was a loud whoosh as an iron dome launched from across the road…navigator that I am, I deduced that rockets coming from one side of the road and iron dome launching on the other was not a combination that was particularly favorable for us. I tried to help comfort the 11 year-old girl with optimism that we had an iron dome right near us. Another launch then quiet, wait the required 10 minutes, dust off my clothes and continue.
I climbed the winding road to my cousins’ pastoral home and it was as if all this was in another world. In conversation over lunch there and later with my sister in Jerusalem, we are a lot more concerned about the violence within Israel by Israelis – Jews and Arabs – than by the rockets.