Since October 7th, we have heard many testimonies about the pogrom in the Western Negev from early Saturday morning until the next day. Some of these testimonies are very dramatic and scary, but sometimes it’s the seemingly little things that stay with you. On October 22nd, Sivan Klingbail, the editor of The Marker and a native of Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the Kibbutzim in the south that suffered the hardest blow in the Hamas attack, was a guest on The Marker podcast. Among the things that she talked about was how difficult it was to watch a live report from her Kibbutz on October 7th, to recognize the devastation of the familiar sights from Nir Oz, all the while the reporter on Israeli television mistakenly confused its name with that of another Kibbutz. It was as though the massacre and the total destruction weren’t enough; now the name was taken away as well. It is true that some of the Kibbutzim in the Western Negev have similar names, and it is also true that the reporters themselves were in shock, making it hard for them to focus. But apparently, confusing the names at such a traumatic time gave the victims and their families a feeling that they did not matter and perhaps never existed.
Like many Israelis, I still walk around in a daze, trying to continue with my life but unable to do so. In the restaurant where I volunteer, we send meals every day to the areas that suffered the most. The names of the Kibbutzim and villages are written on the whiteboard. I know that in those places, the residents are no longer there; they were either killed, injured, kidnapped, or evacuated. Now it’s a war, and the army is in those places instead. So at least we can send the soldiers meals. The Western Negev is only one of the places where we send meals. Fortunately, in the Northern and Western Galilee, the residents were evacuated in time. So looking at that list of orders doesn’t make me as sad as preparing the meals for what was once called the Gaza Envelope. After October 7th, the name of this area was changed to the Western Negev, or Israel Envelope, but the name hasn’t caught on yet, and on our list, it’s still called the Gaza Envelope.
At this time the names of the Kibbutzim and the villages conjure images of unbearable suffering, it will take a long time for the state of Israel to return to normal life, but to the residents of the Western Negev life will never be the same. But we can do one thing to begin healing, to bring back the hostages now.