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Back to normality on the Gaza border

Hamas hasn't fired a rocket in 15 hours, so I'm supposed to settle down and get on with my routine -- that should be easy enough, right?
A home in the southern town of Sderot is hit by shrapnel from a rocket attack launched by terror groups in the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2019. (Meital Adri/Sderot Online)
A home in the southern town of Sderot is hit by shrapnel from a rocket attack launched by terror groups in the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2019. (Meital Adri/Sderot Online)

Eight o’clock last night, after a day of fear and uncertainty, we get the message we waited for: “Back to Normality.” And in one moment everything is good again — we are back in our so called “normal life” here in the area surrounding Gaza.

Or is it?

What does it mean? How does anyone think that we can switch on and off the tension and fear that we have had for the last 24 hours? How can one be expected to wake up in the morning and continue our lives as if nothing happened?

It is important to understand that switching into emergency mode is easy. You hear the first alarm, the anxiety starts to rule our life. That’s it. Your attention splits between whatever you are doing and the sounds of alarms, attacks, and the surroundings outside.

Life turns over — schools are closed, unnecessary work places are closed, the train stopped, and you live in a war zone. We move to sleep in our indoor bombshelter, staying 15 seconds from a safe place. Life becomes all about when the next rocket will be launched. When we leave home, we search for the safest place around wherever we are.

And then, suddenly someone decides that it’s been enough for this round. Hamas hasn’t launched a missile towards Israel for the past 15 hours, so the people can switch “back to normality,” and go on with their daily lives.

The biggest question is how do you do that? How do you settle down, just because someone said that all is good, and tomorrow the kids can go back to school, and people can go back to work?

Recently, I found that this had become a major issue. People were treated to help them deal with the fear, the anxiety and so on, but no one thought about the day after — this “back to normality.”

For me, this aftermath is the hardest stage of every escalation, and from one time to the next, it gets harder. Instead of feeling relief, I feel frustrated, as nothing has changed between this morning and two mornings ago. The leaders of Hamas are still the ones who are calling the shots, and deciding when we will be under attack and when we will be “back to normality” once again.

I don’t have answers for how to re-enter “normal life,” but I’m trying to understand and search for the magic answer that will allow me to switch between emergency times and normal times.

And maybe, the problem is that normal times in this area are actually “lite-emergency” times, over and over again.

Hoping for quiet and peace.

About the Author
Noga Gulst is a resident of Kibbutz Mefalsim, located near the Gaza Strip
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