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Day 183 Of The War: The Sites of The Shoah

A photo I took of a mobile shelter in the entrance of Kibbutz Mefalsim.  Inside there are memorial candle and a flag of Israel
A photo I took of a mobile shelter in the entrance of Kibbutz Mefalsim. Inside there are memorial candle and a flag of Israel

This morning, a group of us was invited by our friends to Maale Habsor, 5 km away from the Gaza border. Our friends that grow Geranium, moved there in 1982 after being evacuated from the Yamit region in the Sinai desert, following the peace treaty with Egypt. During the war, several of our friends volunteered once a week to help in the nursery, as the Thai employees went back home after October 7th https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/day-161-of-the-war-visiting-yeruham-again/. Driving down south on Saturday morning, the roads were almost empty. As we passed Ashkelon and went farther to the Eshkol region; we started seeing the names and the sites of the October 7th massacre. It started with a small  gathering by a black mobile shelter as we got into the region. One by one, people went into the shelter while others hugged one another. As we progressed, we started seeing signs of  Rei’m stopping area, Kibbutz Reim, Camp Reim. In that area the Nova Party  massacre took place. Then we continued toward the sign to Kibbutz Nir Oz, and then somewhat farther, Nahal Oz and Kissoufim.There were almost no cars on the road , just the signs reminding us of what happened 6 months ago tomorrow. I started feeling  stress and found  it was hard to breathe.  Then in a flashback I remembered the time, 10 years ago in Poland, when we drove with a bus toward the  concentration camps and saw the signs leading to Majdanek, Auschwitz Birkenau, etc. It was eerie.

When we finally got to Maale Habsor, we saw mobile shells spread everywhere on the main road. I thought about children walking on the quiet street and all of a sudden there are booms and they have to find shelter. When we got to our friends I told them about my experience of the way there and how it felt like driving through holocaust sites. 

But then we spent the day together  with friends and it felt normal again. For lunch we all drove to a picnic site not far away. Every so often we heard booms from afar; our friends said that these were the sounds of shelling, they were used to it. After the picnic, we hurried home so I could make it to Kaplan tonight. Our group stayed in the south in order to visit the Nova site and the site of the burnt cars. Following the visit one of our friends wrote in the group whatsApp: “The Nova and the car site are indeed Shoah sites.”

In the evening, I went to the demonstration again. It was a completely different scene at Kaplan. The big stage had been reinstalled at the “Democracy Plaza” at the east end of the street, and thousands of people came to protest. They seemed determined yet sad; the hope and energy of the pre-October 7th time had disappeared. We can’t stand it anymore; it’s time to hold an election and bring the hostages back now.

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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