Chavi Feldman

Holding my breath

It’s quiet. Too quiet. My phone’s red alert app has not gone off for more than a day now, and I catch myself checking it every once in a while to make sure that it’s still working, that maybe I muted it and that’s why I’m not hearing anything. But no, it works. I checked. There are just no rockets.

I should be overjoyed. I’m thrilled that our soldiers are somewhat safer than they were just two days ago and that many are one their way home after this long drawn out and painful month. And I can imagine those joyous tearful reunions between mother and son, husband and wife, father and children. Oh, to be a fly on those walls… I’m happy that the news is not filled with endless information about wounded soldiers and which hospitals they’re being taken to, or funerals and the cemeteries where our dead will be buried. The numbers of our dead have not risen and that alone is a reason to celebrate.

But I’m not overjoyed. Honestly, I’m numb. I feel like being too happy about this lull in the rockets is akin to counting your eggs before they’ve hatched or spending your money before cashing in that lottery ticket. Instead, I’m holding my breath. Holding it for too long, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this will not last and that we’ll be back to business as usual – that nasty business of war – before too long.

Everyone I speak to has mixed feelings about this unconditional ceasefire, but it’s more than that. As I watched the news last night and saw the footage of the wreckage that was once Gaza, I asked my husband, “whose responsibility is it to see to these homeless people?” Who will rebuild their streets, homes and infrastructures? Is it ours? Did we destroy our enemy and their capability of hurting us only to help them rebuild, help them regroup? Do we trust that someone decent and capable will step in and take charge of the people in Gaza, someone who wants a true partnership with us, someone who has a vision for a progressive Gaza, a safe Gaza, a peaceful Gaza? Or will Hamas rise like Phoenix from the ashes and take Gaza once again into the pits of hell?

In one news segment, a mother of two from Kfar Aza, a yishuv literally on the border of Gaza, was clearly upset about the ceasefire and the announcement from the government that it was now safe for her family to return to her home. The IDF representative on the panel turned to her and in a kind voice said that the army had reached their objective. They had weakened Hamas and had removed all the tunnels that they know of. That now she could go home and know that she and her family would be safe. She pounced on him, and – in my opinion – rightly so. “The tunnels that you know of?!” she asked. “What about the ones you don’t know of? And how long will we be safe? A year, two? That’s not enough!” she exclaimed. The IDF representative had no answer for her, and admitted to that.

And it seems, that since Hamas has been debilitated – for now – and that “most” of the rockets have been removed from their arsenals, Hamas loyalists in the rest of Israel proper have take it upon themselves to continue this battle in the form of terror attacks in our streets, on our buses, and in our yishuvim. And we are constantly reminded by every local news outlet that we should be on guard, that their ultimate goal is to kidnap an Israeli citizen again. That this will be their coup, their victory.

It’s really no wonder that I’m still holding my breath.

Yes, the army destroyed more than thirty tunnels. Thank God. And they did their best to take out as many rocket launchers as possible. And they managed to kill some top Hamas leaders. The PR of the IDF did a fantastic job fighting the “media war” that was waged against us – a better job than they had ever done before. And our boys and our men, our soldiers, did an unbelievable job fighting our enemies. They portrayed unparalleled courage and grace in the face of unspeakable evil. And that is truly a victory.

Why then does it feel like we’ve lost?

About the Author
Chavi Feldman has a degree in graphic design and advertising and works primarily as a music teacher. She has lived in Israel for more than two decades.