I live on the border. I have lived here since I was 21. My children were born here. My parents were buried here. My husband is buried here. My greatest joys and deepest traumas are rooted in these clumps of fertile soil which was once desert, but today bears wheat and corn. Throughout the last two escalations of violence, I remained behind to bear witness to our lives here on the border with the Gaza Strip, and to this day, I give talks and tours for dignitaries and students and citizens who come to show that they care. I explain, depict, describe our life here. As a matter of fact, a group is being helicoptered in next week.
As part of my talk, I show pictures of the mosque that we can see from the corner of our little community and hear when the wind is right and the imam calls his faithful to prayer. In the picture I use as the background to my talk, you can see the little blue dome and two minarets standing like sentries on either side. At the end of my talk, we walk through the community and end up at the corner from where they can see the mosque for themselves.
“What is the difference between what you see today and what I showed in the pictures?” I ask.
“The minarets are gone,” they reply.
Indeed. In the middle of the horrible summer of 2014, I suddenly noticed one minaret missing. And then, a few days later: the other was down. The Hamas had been given permission, or just commandeered the mosque and its minarets, to hoard weapons and shoot at the soldiers of the IDF. It also gave them a clear shot at our people, who kept on working our fields despite the fighting. Because, you see, we know when escalations begin, but no one can ever tell us when they will end. Despite the rockets, fields must be tended, animals fed, communities sustained.
Then, suddenly, two weeks ago, as I was driving around the fields with a friend — I saw them: the minarets were being rebuilt. Still with scaffolding, they look taller than their predecessors. I joked to my friend, saying that my talk is now ruined, the punch — gone.
But in reality, I am so very glad they are being rebuilt.
People need their places of worship, and sanctuary. Maybe this is a sign that the rebuilding of people’s lives is actually starting to happen on the other side of our fence. I just hope that these structures will be used only for peaceful purposes. For purposes of soulful solace, rather than sniper outposts or the stockpiling of weapons. But I am acutely aware that until the Gazans have something to live for, they will have only reasons to die for.
If you wish to read more about what it is like living on the border with the Gaza Strip, you can follow me on Facebook, join the FB group I moderate: Life on the Border and “like” The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev.
I am also happy to be in contact via Twitter @AdeleRaemer.