Orna Raz

Day 166 of the war: In between demonstrations in Kaplan

Photo I took of the stage in Kaplan of activists from the Pink Front
Photo I took of the stage in Kaplan of activists from the Pink Front

As the days pass and the war continues, the government remains in power, and the hostages have not returned home, the Israeli public is becoming increasingly despondent. Last Saturday, March 16th, I was again at the demonstration at Kaplan, amidst thousands of people. In contrast to the passionate, almost romantic, speeches delivered last year during the judicial overhaul, when hope was abundant, the mood now is solemn and much more realistic. We understand that we must bring the hostages back now, remove Netanyahu from office, oust this corrupt government, hold elections, and reach some form of resolution with our neighbors. However, the speakers at the event didn’t touch upon these topics in their brief speeches; instead, they spoke from the heart about their personal experiences with the judicial overhaul, October 7th, the war and bereavement. Even our national anthem, Hatikvah, sounded especially gloomy last Saturday night.

The following day, I volunteered in the dining room at the headquarters of The Hostages and Missing Families Forum. It’s a busy place filled with volunteers and some family members. It’s remarkable how everyone I encounter in the dining hall is polite and cordial. Despite their suffering, the families appreciate all the support they receive from the volunteers, many of whom they have come to know and trust.

Yesterday, amidst the rainy weather in Tel Aviv, we decided to meet friends in the south near Kiryat Gat to explore nature since it was clear and sunny in the south. After our drive in the green Negev, we stopped at the intersection of Beit Kama, where less than a week ago, on March 14th, a terrorist attack occurred at an Aroma Cafe.

Three people were stabbed, and one of them, a career soldier, died from his wounds. The Palestinian terrorist, originally from Gaza, arrived at the scene on a scooter and was subsequently neutralized by the soldier who fought bravely. This Aroma Cafe is a popular stop for drivers and cyclists alike. While seated inside an ice cream shop, opposite the parking lot from Aroma, our friends suddenly spotted a woman in uniform, realizing immediately that she was the brave heroine, Superintendent Shifra Buchris, from the border police, who had saved many lives during the Nova party attack on October 7th. There is still a war going on the the south of the country, and it was a great honor to meet her and express our gratitude for her service.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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