It’s the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2016.
Operation Protective Edge ended a little less than 21 months ago. The tense quiet has held (more or less) for 21 months. Well, not really. There have been a few rockets along the border (albeit, not in my community), and the discovery of a couple of tunnels. And the noise of Egypt to our south blasting its border to smithereens after forcing all its inhabitants within a certain distance from their Gaza Border, to evacuate with barely time to gather their belongings and a pittance for reparations. Then they demolished any tunnels and choked Gaza, strangulating their trade routes, limiting their ability to transfer weapons, but also basic humanitarian needs.
However since yesterday, things have been kicking up dust. The IDF are apparently advancing with the tunnel and terror activity detection technologies, and even the Prime Minister and Security Minister paid us an unpublicized visit to see the tunnel for themselves, and the Hamas ain’t happy. For the first time since August 26th, 2014, a mortar has been shot. Two, in fact. The targets so far have been military, but we can hear explosions, and planes sojourning.
The region is churning and bubbling, heating up from one hourly news report to the next. And we wait. The people of the region, the mothers. I especially feel for the mothers. The new ones. With babies just a year old. The ones who have never experienced these realities in the role of parents responsible for the tender lives they brought into the world less than a year after the last mortar fell, and the last man was killed. (They say that women become especially fertile in times of stress, and that nine months after a war there is always a baby boom: Mother Nature’s way of ensuring the perpetuation of life). Those mothers who suddenly feel the responsibility of new lives and the fear that they could be at a junction when a life-altering decision might need to be made. Might need to have been made already. There are apprehensive mothers here who are trying to fall asleep now, fearing that maybe they should have left already when the leaving was good. That maybe tomorrow will be too late. That’s how frightened some people are here.
Of course that’s not all people. But even one person, is too many. The fear of even one Jewish mother on this eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, is too many. Especially when it hits near and deep and personal.
And while I worry more about my own, I also think about the Gazan mother. The one whose baby was born about nine months after the last rocket was shot off from within her neighborhood, and who may have spent her first months of pregnancy with morning sickness, living in a tent or rubble or a school-turned-refugee camp. That same mother is probably just as fearful (if not more) tonight. And rightfully so. Anticipating IDF retaliation.
I look back at these 21 months, and wonder: why hasn’t anything changed? NOTHING. If anything, it’s gotten worse. People in Gaza are still homeless, their sewers are dysfunctional. We are coming up to summer, when disease spreads more easily. Ecological disasters know no borders. Freely flowing sewage into the sea washes back up on our shores – the shores where my neighbors will go swimming in the coming days to escape the heat waves which have begun their spring-time visitations. The flies don’t get stopped at the border for security checks.
As I was driving home tonight listening to the commemorative ceremony taking place in Jerusalem, I heard my prime minster talk about how the Zionist forefathers mistakenly believed that the founding of Israel, a homeland for the Jews, would put a stop to antisemitism, because the Jews would leave their host countries, all go back home to Israel, and everyone would be happy. He spoke about how “blaming it all on the Jews” has morphed into “blaming it all on Israel”. I understand his point. I really get it. He’s an excellent orator. But I need him to do more. I need him to be a visionary. I need my government to have a plan.
The money being spent on developing the technology to protect me and my family, is important and highly appreciated. However at the same time, I really need my government to find a way to enable life in Gaza, to be livable. The more desperate Hamas gets, the more dangerous they become. An enemy pushed into a corner, quickly becomes a fiercer adversary. Hungry people, are desperate people. To be going to bed on Holocaust Remembrance Day Eve wondering whether I will be woken by incoming missile alerts, 21 months after the previous war finished, is unacceptable.
I need my government to step up to the bat and do something that will make a real difference. The promise that there “will never be another Holocaust” is not enough. I need my government to head off the next war which we feel reverberating literally under our feet. I need my government to dismantle the Hamas. The only way they can do that is not by bombs, (they’ve tried that… numerous times) rather by making the Hamas irrelevant, unnecessary. The only way to make our lives safe here, is to make the Gaza Strip livable.
Please follow my updates about the region on Facebook in the group I moderate: Life on the Border https://www.facebook.com/groups/204252482969907/ and The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev https://www.facebook.com/FutureWesternNegev/
I would love to be in contact via Twitter @AdeleRaemer