Harriet Gimpel

Chords struck – in three vignettes

Three vignettes

Luis was not a household name in Israel until he was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, 2023.  Then he was rescued from Rafah by Israeli soldiers together with another Israeli on February 12, 2024. In a television interview last week, he spoke of the fears every time a plane was heard overhead. Calculating the direction and the likelihood of the Israeli attack taking them down with the building where they were held hostage. Understood. Understood all Israeli hostages in Gaza experience this. Understood Gazans experience this.

He was asked about closing the gaps and learning what happened between October 7 and February 12. When asked about the most disturbing revelation, he told about an encounter since his release. He was with his granddaughter and approached by a teenager who seemed to know her. The boy told Luis proudly that his cousin was one of the soldiers that helped release him from captivity. Before Luis could complete the sentence, asking him to thank his cousin, the boy said, he was killed in action a week ago.


It should be a simple given that humanitarian aid to Gaza is an imperative.

Israeli government ministers have made statements since October 7 about hunger and starvation of Gazans as a war tactic. I think it’s called a war crime. They have made statements about no provisions for Gazans if there are no provisions for Israeli hostages. Government ministers make erratic statements regardless of government policy and without government penalty. The price Israeli society is paying for the continued service of Bibi Netanyahu as prime minister. Taking its toll on the Jewish people. Thank you, Sen. Chuck Schumer for your call for Israeli elections.

War crimes on October 7 precipitate the war.

It is easy to get the impression that Israel is solely responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Food doesn’t get in. Extremist Jewish settlers obstructed entry of food at border crossings, together with some families of hostages. But well over 15,000 trucks of humanitarian aid have entered Gaza from Israel. Are the same institutions responsible for not delivering meds to Israeli hostages supposed to distribute the humanitarian aid? Remember those UNRWA employees who participated in the massacre in Israel on October 7, indiscriminately attacking Jews, Arabs, and foreign workers. Responsibility for humanitarian aid distribution, or for its confiscation and preventing it from reaching the Gazan victims of the humanitarian crisis.

It’s easy to follow Al Jazeera and place the blame entirely on Israel.

The humanitarian crisis is indisputable. Placing the blame is almost like looking at the entire conflict. Is it all Israel’s fault because we retaliated on October 7? Thank you, Pres. Joe Biden for the moving pier in Gaza for delivery of humanitarian aid.


Just started biting my nails. Uncertainty. Will Israel attack Rafah? Should Netanyahu have made it happen months ago? Was there a way, only taking down Hamas in the process?

Hezbollah in Lebanon. Northern Israel – civilians largely evacuated. The rest of us on the spectrum from oblivious to anxious. The hum of the undercurrent between the extremes ranges from the raise of one eyebrow or the other when discussion begins – who is hosting the family seder, the first night of Passover? April 22.  We all know, none of us know – what will be by then.

Harriet Gimpel, March 16, 2024

About the Author
Born and raised in Philadelphia, earned a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1980, followed by an M.A. in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harriet has worked in the non-profit world throughout her career. She is a freelance translator and editor, writes poetry in Hebrew and essays in English, and continues to work for NGOs committed to human rights and democracy.
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