It’s like Groundhog Day. But with rockets.
It begins on a backdrop of the usual low-level violence: arson balloons and kites, violent protests, the occasional stray bullet. But then something snaps. Sirens wail. Bullets ricochet. Parents huddle with their kids in playground bomb shelters, counting booms. Warplanes thunder overhead. Mothers in Gaza shut their eyes and pray. Bright red ink bleeds across newspaper headlines, and in the photographs splashed across the page, pillars of fire and smoke plume from empty shells of buildings. The Twitter accounts of world leaders regurgitate the usual: “unacceptable,” “condemn in the strongest terms,” “restraint,” “both sides,” like scolding a pair of quarreling toddlers.
Speculation sweeps through the social networks: is this it? Will it be now?
Words are exchanged behind closed doors in Cairo. Hamas announces a ceasefire. Our leaders hesitate to confirm, because they know how we will respond when they do. They know they haven’t done away with the threat, they haven’t done a single thing to prevent another civilian casualty, all they have done is kick the can down the road–a shorter and shorter distance down the road as time has gone on. They feed us some self-congratulatory BS about the terror targets they’ve destroyed and some Hamas goon they’ve assassinated who will be easily replaced, and claim victory.
They don’t even bother promising quiet in the south anymore. If they did, no one would believe them.
The smoke lifts, the schools in the south open their doors, and we return to “shigra”–that “routine” that can’t honestly be translated as “normal.”
Lather, rinse, repeat, every two to four months.
This is what our lives have been like for the past year and a half.
Each time there’s a flare-up, we wonder what it will take to tip the balance and plunge us into all-out war. Last time, when a house in central Israel was hit and a family narrowly escaped death, many of us were convinced we’d have no choice; surely if families in the Sharon aren’t safe in their beds, drastic measures are well overdue?
And as the smoke clears yet again, this time over four fresh Israeli civilian graves, I’m starting to wonder if our government is ever going to do anything serious about the threat from Gaza.
I don’t want another war. I don’t want to relive the summer of 2014, or of 2006, or the winter of 2012, or of 2008. I don’t want to have to tell my kids not to play too far from a bomb shelter. I don’t want to jump at every passing ambulance or revving of a motorcycle engine that vaguely echoes of the rise of the air raid siren. I don’t want more deaths–not in Israel, not in Gaza, innocent or not. I don’t want more morbid body count games. I don’t want to scroll through the international news and fume over the outrageously biased headlines.
But I also don’t want this to keep happening. I don’t want any more Israelis to die from rocket fire. I don’t want to give Hamas more chances to re-arm and get better at thwarting Iron Dome. I don’t want my government to continue neglecting its duty to protect me, my family, and my friends.
It’s all the same script, over and over again ad nauseam. The same violence, the same calm, the same words, the same accusations, the same biases, the same so-called solutions. Only the names in the obituaries ever seem to change.