We held a protest demonstration yesterday, to demand equality in security. Because the south is burning.
Because we absorbed almost 200 rockets in the space of 24 hours last week.
Because our security is not at the top of the list of the most pressing political issues for those who sit in office.
Because we deserve the same security that people in Tel Aviv enjoy.
We could have postponed it, or rescheduled because of other demonstrations taking place around the same time in Tel Aviv. But our story was time sensitive. Only 2 days earlier, the Israeli citizens of the south had lived through a mini-war, which was still fresh in the minds of people watching the news, living the pace dictated by sensations and sound bytes; people for whom yesterday’s news is quickly forgotten, as the media focus moves on to the next news flash. After a few days, the trauma of 24 hours under fire remains imprinted only in the psyches of those who had to take cover tens of times in their safe rooms.
So what do we want?
Equality of Security: The response to an arson fire in the Gaza Envelope (aka Western Negev) should be the same as if it had happened in the middle of Jerusalem. A rocket attack on Kibbutz Nirim should get the same response as if the target had been Tel Aviv. (Let alone the almost 200 rocket attacks up and down the entire the Gaza Envelope region between Wednesday and Thursday.) We are not saying what the response should be. Our government needs to engage diplomatic channels while at the same time, let the IDF do what they decide needs to be done in response to Hamas.
Who participated? People from tens of communities from the Gaza Envelope region, and many from all over the country who came in support. We were around 200 people in the street at the entrance to the Hashalom train station.
The protest began by holding signs and going out to the crosswalk whenever there was a green light at the crossing, returning to the sidewalk when the light turned red.
After a while, we made our presence more palpable: remaining in the crosswalk after the light turned red. Going over to talk to the occupants of the cars who were in the traffic jam. Sounding a siren and hitting the ground, covering our heads, as we were forced to do so many times last week – for real. Attaching sparklers to helium balloons and letting them float across Hashalom, above the Ayalon, as they do across the Gaza border into fields and forests of the south. As they say in the news reports when a rocket explodes in an open field: no one was hurt; no damage to property was caused.
How did people react? Many were empathetic and made sounds and signs of support. A few got angry (Really? Comparing the inconvenience of a traffic jam to living under threat of rocket fire for almost 20 years, it’s peanuts.)
We were only 200 participants, but this is just the beginning. It will grow. And for that, we need your help. Our security is your security. We need the citizens of Israel to stand by our sides, because we who live in the shadows of the rockets, deserve more. Our children deserve more.
Because in these hot days of August…… the south, literally, is burning.