Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

Difficult Times

It is hard to write about what’s happening in Israel at the moment. First of all, we keep being told that the IDF is advancing and succeeding in wiping out the Hamas organization whose terrorists invaded Israel a few weeks ago, wreaking havoc in an orgy of bestiality, barbarism and brutality. The results of that event continue to be felt throughout Israel, with over one hundred and thirty hostages still being held in Gaza, undergoing unimaginable suffering. Efforts to rescue them have so far been unsuccessful, often resulting in additional loss of life by those involved in the rescue efforts. And rockets are still being fired from Gaza into Israel, so it seems that all the efforts to destroy that evil organization known have not succeeded.

The price of waging war inevitably involves endangering the lives of the soldiers on the ground, and that is what is happening now. In Israel it is hard to avoid the evening routine of watching the nightly TV news programs when the number and names of casualties are reported. Each morning the agony is repeated when we open the newspaper and see the photos of the fallen soldiers. We are confronted by the smiling faces of young men who were full of talent and promise and whose families are now devastated, or older ones whose loss leaves widows and children bereft. We seem to be going through a never-ending series of disasters. Even people not directly affected cannot help feeling sad at the terrible loss of life. To date over one hundred soldiers have been killed in the line of duty in Gaza.

The suffering of the families of the hostages can only be imagined, and we have to admire their fortitude in standing by one another in their demand that the government do everything in its power to bring their loved ones back. While a negotiated arrangement did succeed in bringing a few dozen hostages, mainly women and children, out of captivity, over one hundred and thirty civilians and soldiers are still being held, continuing to undergo physical privation and starvation.

Meanwhile many thousands of Israelis whose homes are near the southern and northern borders of the country have been forced to live elsewhere, away from the constant danger of attack, whether by rocket or terrorist incursion. Their temporary accommodation in hotels far away from their homes leaves them in a kind of permanent limbo, not knowing what they are to do with themselves and when they will be able to return.

The physical destruction of Gaza and loss of life there is the other side of the coin. The people who live there are not all terrorists, and they, too, are experiencing suffering and deprivation. One’s heart aches for all the families experiencing homelessness, loss of loved ones and the devastation of their way of life. It could be said that they brought their misfortune on themselves by supporting Hamas, but what choice did they have? Hamas imposed itself on the local population and has since made it abundantly clear that their concern is not for the welfare of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. By sending their terrorist operatives into Israel to sow death and destruction they set in motion a process that is bringing untold misery to the people for whose welfare they have made themselves responsible.

And now we are told by the government that this situation will continue for many weeks, even months, with who knows what further loss of life on both sides. But much as I want this war to end, I can’t help agreeing that it is essential to put an end to the threat to Israel from the enemies on its borders, both south and north. Israel has had to fight for its survival ever since its inception, so it looks as if that situation will continue until its enemies accept the fact of its existence. The alternative is just too horrible to contemplate.

About the Author
I was born and brought up in England. I am a graduate of the LSE and the Hebrew University. I have lived in Israel since 1964. I am an experienced translator, editor and writer.
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