I’ll draw you a picture: I live in an agricultural community in the Western Negev, on the border with the Gaza Strip. Despite the fact that this is a desert and it is mid-July, the fields around me are lush and green. I am out in the refreshing coolness of a day not-yet fully begun, walking my dogs before the heat becomes too oppressive. The only sounds I hear are the birds busy showing off their vocal skills before it gets too hot for them to even contemplate singing. Through the electrically-wired fence constructed here as a result of last summer’s war, in an attempt to locate terrorist infiltration, I see a car stop in the middle of the field; the middle of nowhere. People pour out, look around, don hats and start unloading equipment. I realize that it could be for one of two reasons.
First possibility: Checking the crops for agricultural purposes.
Second option: Listening for tunnel-digging.
Somehow, I suspect the latter.
What disturbs me immeasurably is the fact that the second option is even a conceivable possibility. This is a farming community, founded on land which is under no circumstances controversial. It is “greater-Israel” according to all maps of the region, as far back as the British Mandate. Albeit, in the periphery, but Israel-proper, all the same.
And then I get home, and read this article about how, despite all the preventative measures this country could possibly implement, Hamas is managing to obtain materials for building more tunnels. The article was written by Avi Issacharoff, a journalist who specializes in issues dealing with our region, and whose opinion I highly value. His article neither quells my concerns nor dispels my suspicions.
A few hours later, I hear a distant explosion. I am used to hearing those (I am used to hearing much worse). I didn’t give it a second thought, until I got a text message informing residents of the region that the army would be destroying ammunition, and that we shouldn’t be alarmed when we hear the resulting explosions. Well, that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
Nobody won the war that took its heavy toll last year: the emotional toll felt by people who had to either live in a war zone, or escape with their families to safer regions, and the toll in precious lives of strangers who were protecting me, as well as friends who were restoring the electricity in my community. Again, today’s unfolding reminded me that that war, which seemed to end so suddenly, violently and tragically, did not end in a way that left our lives here any safer.
What all this adds up to is the fact that we REALLY have NO time to lose!
Please join us tomorrow, Tuesday 21/7/2015 at 12:30 in the “Jerusalem Hall” of the Knesset, for the founding of the new lobby for the Communities on the Borders of Israel! The new lobby will be led by MKs Yifat Shasha (Kulanu), Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid) Omer Bar Lev (Labour). We’re banking on this new lobby to keep the interests of the people who live way down here on the border, and sometimes feel out of sight (and out of mind?) of our legislative leaders, on the table.
We should not have to live this way, in our own country. It’s time we did something about it. Something different. Something to make all of the parts in this picture, fit.
If you wish to join us, send an email to email@example.com with your name and ID number in order to gain entrance.
(If you have supported us in the past, and have a shirt from The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev, please wear it. If you do not have a Movement shirt, a red shirt is just as good!)
And if you want to read more about what it is really like to live on the border, you can read about it on our Facebook group Life on the Border with Gaza — things people may not know, but should.