Hod Hasharon, Israel
Sunday, July 13, 2014 – 8.30 PM
In less than two hours’ time Israelis and Gazians will be glued to their TV sets to watch the FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. Time will tell whether this will lead to a temporary lull in the rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population and the IDF’s attempts to control the situation, or whether we shall be forced to make a rush for our bomb shelters and reinforced rooms in the middle of the game.
Our daughter and grandchild have left Tel Aviv and moved into our home in Hod Hasharon, because they don’t have a reinforced room and it would take just too long for them to run with an 18-month old to the nearest public bomb shelter.
We try to carry on with our lives, but it isn’t easy. At any moment the air raid siren can sound. Home Command has apparently divided Israel into 220 separate zones. The sophisticated Iron Dome defence system can track the trajectory of incoming rockets and determine precisely where they will land. The population in targeted areas can then be warned and if a rocket is likely to land in a populated area, a missile will be launched to intercept it. They say that the system has a 90% success rate, but 90% is not 100%….
Life isn’t really normal, although we try to pretend it is. I continue to teach my Bar Mitzvah students, but visitors from overseas are cancelling their trips. Last week our congregation, Kehilat Yonatan, started a campaign to raise 1,000 shekels (about $300) from each of our members to fund the preparation of construction plans for a much-needed Reform community centre and synagogue in our town. However, it is hard to make progress on this right now. People’s minds are elsewhere and the campaign has gone dead.
There is something surrealistic about the manner in which we somehow continue to live our daily lives while our country is under attack. People say that the rockets coming out of Gaza are primitive, but a 16-years old boy from Ashkelon was severely injured by shrapnel this morning as he tried to find shelter on his way for a hair cut.
On the one hand, we are threatened by rockets coming out of Gaza, but, on the other hand, we continue to supply fuel, food and electricity to the Palestinians who live there. Israeli pilots halt attacks on targets in Gaza when civilians are sighted, because, unlike Hamas, we have no desire to kill innocent people.
It is fairly clear why Hamas chose to break its truce at this time and started launching rockets on Israel once again. They are in bad shape right now. With the emergence of a military government in Egypt, they do not have the support they received from the Muslim Brotherhood. Tunnels used for smuggling goods into Gaza have been shut down with a consequential loss of income to Hamas, which taxes all such “imports”. It has also become harder for Hamas to get financial support from Iran. Many Gazians no longer favour them and see that their fellow Palestinians on the West Bank generally enjoy a higher standard of living.
With Palestinian elections scheduled for later this year, Hamas desperately needs to improve its standing and show Palestinians that it is their true representative rather than President Mahmoud Abbas, who co-operated with Israel in its search for the three abducted Israeli teenagers later found murdered.
Things move so fast here. Eyal Yifrah, Gilead Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel are no longer in the news. The memory of the ghastly murder of Mohammed Abu Hadir also begins to fade. However, they too belong to the events that have contributed to the current round of fighting, which will unfortunately lead nowhere until the next ceasefire is brokered.
As I write these words, I read online that damage was caused to a house in my own town, Hod Hasharon, earlier this evening when shrapnel caused by the interception of an incoming rocket penetrated its roof causing material damage but no injury.
In less than two hours’ time the World Cup final will commence. Meanwhile the fighting goes on.