The gamut of emotions came hard and fast one after the other last Saturday. The information about rockets fired on southern Israel interrupted a quiet morning as I listened to classical music on the radio and continued with some household tasks. Here in the Judean Hills just outside Jerusalem we are not usually threatened by rockets in the south. But a couple of hours later the first siren sounded and we had to go down to our basement bomb shelter.
Then came the news that Hamas terrorists had entered Israel and were causing havoc in the kibbutzim and moshavim along the border with Gaza. My first reaction was disbelief. How could this have happened? After all, we have a complex and sophisticated system of surveillance preventing the entry of terrorists into Israel. Several years ago the army tried to put an end to the tunnels that Hamas had dug beneath Gaza in order to enable terrorists to get into Israel. We had erected a physical barrier and established observation posts along the border.
Later that day, as the hours passed and the realization dawned that the situation was far worse than had initially been revealed I turned the television on and found myself riveted to reports coming from the south accompanied by discussions and analysis in the studio.
It took more than a day or two for the gross enormity of what had happened in the towns and villages in southern Israel to be reported in full. And when I say ‘in full’ I know that what I heard and saw on my TV screen was a sanitized version of the true horrors. The public was warned not to open clips sent via social media, and knowing that I did not want to expose myself to scenes that I would find traumatic, I followed that advice.
Nonetheless, the accounts of people cowering with children and babies in bomb-shelters for hours on end, pleading for help from the supposedly all-powerful IDF, or the stories of hundreds of young people who had been participating in an outdoor party and were slaughtered wholesale by the terrorists or taken captive into Gaza left me in tears, shocked to my core and shaking with fury.
How had this happened? Where were our defence forces? Our intelligence network? Our government? The answer came to me in a flash, and I was not the only one to have these thoughts, though we have been told that this is not the time for calling the authorities to account. That will come later.
I know exactly why it happened. Because the government was busy with the matters designed to keep it in power and Netanyahu out of jail. Its priorities were all askew. Why did they want to make radical changes to the legal system? Why were they prepared to syphon huge amounts of money to the ultra-Orthodox who neither work nor serve in the military? Why were budgetary allocations switched from the health network, social services and the general education system to ultra-Orthodox institutions? Why was it necessary to disregard the status quo accord and allow hundreds of Jews to ascend the Temple Mount? Pandering to greedy, selfish, messianic coalition parties is the answer.
Worse still, why did it take so long (almost nine hours) for the IDF to get to the south and rescue those poor souls who had not been murdered or taken to Gaza? Because it was not ready to move. It was stationed throughout the Occupied Territories, protecting so-called religious sites, illegal settlements and hill-top youth whose primary aim is to harass and persecute the local population. The time for recrimination will come, but for now I and many others are simply fuming with anger.