From Hilary Kaplan

Dear family and friends,

To those of you who we speak to daily, receive emails, face book messages, sometimes more than once a day, (my two incredibly special sisters), a huge thank you for your love, care and concern. Much appreciated.
I decided to write some thoughts down, call it my therapy, so here goes….

Hard to believe that we are into our 4th week of Operation Protective Edge. Almost 4 weeks ago, we were sitting at an open air concert listening to the best of the Israeli classics across the road from our apartment, no sooner had we got home, when we heard our first siren.
We were stunned, and then it was followed by this loud “boom”. We ran into our stairwell as per our instructions, and for the first time in years, we were a full house! All the kids came home to sleep. I vaguely remember the soccer was on as Gary insisted on watching!

It has been a very painful, difficult and frustrating time for all of us, but for the citizens of Southern Israel, and for our beloved army, a nightmare.

They have between 15 and 45 seconds to get into a safe room or shelter, some of my friends kids won’t go to the toilet alone, let alone take a shower.

You have no conception of the feeling you have when you hear that siren going – we have had our fair share in central Israel, and at work in particular, the residents and staff at Beth Protea Retirement Home, have been amazing.

Dana’s boyfriend was called up twice, he had to go north to relieve soldiers on active duty, so they could go south.
Everyone knows someone who has a son, brother, grandson, husband, nephew , friend, etc in Gaza.

We personally have very close friends and family who have kids in Gaza; it is impossible to describe the absolute fear that they are experiencing. They wait for a call, that is infrequent, breathe a sigh of relief when they receive one, which doesn’t last very long, as they know they will be going back in again. What can one say?

We have lost over 50 soldiers, as a write this, another 5 last night and 100’s more injured with light to serious injuries. Every soldier that dies is like one of our children. Not sure if the world quite understands our army. I saw on one of our TV channels today, a Grandfather eulogizing his grandson – this is just not right.

The citizens of Israel, together with the support from people all over the world has been overwhelming. People and various organizations have made sure that the soldiers have all they need from underwear, toiletries to cigarettes etc. Parcels have been made up for the children stuck in shelters now for a month and whoever has spoken to their kids in Gaza, has only praise for the residents of the South, who are taking such good care of them. Let them just be safe.

We thank G-d every second of every day for the Iron Dome; there are no words to describe the sound you hear when it prevents a rocket from landing in civilian areas. The boom is deafening, but also music to one’s ears. One has to wait a further 10 minutes before leaving your safe place as it shatters the rocket and all the pieces come falling out of the sky.

There are no winners in this war against evil. What Hamas has done to it’s own population, defies all sense of humanity. Their latest is they took away the UN food cards from the Palestinian people, so they can feed their fighters in the tunnels.

The rise of anti Semitism is horrific; I believe the Orr Sameach Shul in Sea Point was painted with swastikas.
And last night we were sent the statement from Woolworths in South Africa concerning their new policy of identifying products from Israel. Is this not shades of a dark past, reminiscent in both the worst of both Germany and South Africa!

It is 1939 all over again, only this time we have our own country. Unless we are walking to our death like lambs, the world hates the fact that we can now defend ourselves. We are the most humane and moral army in the world, making phone calls, dropping leaflets, making more calls to warn the people to vacate a targeted building housing Hamas fighters and caches of ammunition. We don’t set out to deliberately kill civilians.

What you probably don’t hear or see are the schools, mosques, UNWRA facilities, hospitals, all sitting on top of tunnels filled with rocket launchers, rockets etc and the leadership of Hamas deep underground. Three soldiers died last night, entering a clinic for heaven’s sake, booby trapped with explosives, a clinic – I ask you????
Some 150 Palestinian children died digging those tunnels. Hamas have treated the Palestinian population with not an ounce of humanity and now there is no electricity or food. We set up a field hospital at the Kerem Shalom crossing, Hamas are preventing the wounded from being treated.

An interesting development, Egypt and Israel are actually on the same page; Egypt does not want Hamas anywhere near them, Muslim brotherhood, so Sisi is destroying tunnels on the Egyptian side, some 13 tunnels into Sinai. Hamas are ruining their tourist industry.

Another 16,000 soldiers were called up, this means, they have a couple of hours to get their stuff together, leave their families, jobs, studies and get to the various pick up points heading down south to meet up with their units.
I feel ill all the time, I cannot concentrate on anything, all consumed with the news and no-one wants to go anywhere or do anything.
At work, we have the Television on 24/7; we need to see where the rockets are falling, if our number comes up we can spring into action as we hear the siren wailing outside.

And so it continues, no end in sight. Hamas want the blockade lifted, probably to re-group and strengthen their assault. Listening to Bibi this morning, he posed the question “ If the world is so concerned with the Palestinians in Gaza, then do something other than provide Hamas with the means to build tunnels and stock pile weapons, help create a viable place where they can live and work without the threat of Hamas destroying their lives.”

I am so tired of hearing the word “disproportionate” – we put our money into shelters, Iron Dome etc to keep us safe, Hamas put their money into weapons and hide behind their civilians.
We not only have to fight on the battlefield, but in the media, which is unrelenting in their criticism of us, and so I relate this wonderful story that happened this evening.

A lot of cities in the center of Israel and north are providing places for the residents of the South to sell their goods, clothing, fresh produce etc, and one such market is going on as I write, at the Port in Tel Aviv in two huge hangars. It came as no surprise at 6pm this evening, when the siren wailed across Tel Aviv as Hamas sent a barrage of rockets – instead of running to a shelter, 100’s of people stood in these hangars singing “Am yisrael chai”. (The People of Israel are Alive)

Wake up world. As Bibi said, “We will do what we have to do to protect our country”, after yet another cease fire had been breached by Hamas. As one commentator remarked about Hamas’ understanding of a ‘ceasefire’: “We cease and they fire!”
This country has been facing death and destruction from time immemorial; our futures always decided by foreign leaders. We need to go back to basics – this country was built by the people for the people and we shall overcome, prevail and keep inventing ground breaking technologies, whether in science, medicine, social media, defence – Israel will be at the forefront, so to sing along with the Tel Avivians tonight: