Phyllis Gerably, Director, ADL Israel
On Thursday, the day Israel expanded its operation in Gaza to include ground forces, as I drove back to Hod HaSharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, I heard over the radio that several sirens were heard all over the country.
Thursday evening is usually a horrendous drive taking close to two hours. The ride this time was under an hour with most Israeli families sticking close to home.
As I was driving, I recalled other times that we were at war. The closest to my heart, was during the Yom Kippur War, when my son was born. It was amazing to me at the time to see how everyone came together like one big family. I couldn’t help but think about all the women now who are giving birth and their husbands who are being called up to serve. Forty-one years later and we are again in a war that no one wants but that leaves us no choice.
You have to be here to witness the small stories that illustrate what Israel is all about: a colleague today told us she was ordering challah for the Sabbath from a bakery in Sderot in order to give them the business in these difficult times. Several families in the North have opened their homes to families from Beersheva and Sderot so their children won’t spend most of their summer holiday in shelters. And the story of the first Israeli casualty in the conflict: a man who insisted on visiting IDF soldiers and bringing them sweets who was killed by mortar fire.
President Peres met with children who said, “Of course we can make peace, the Americans are helping us”(Iron Dome)! Even with the backup of the Iron Dome, it’s hard to imagine any kind of peaceful settlement when Hamas continues its attacks on Israel. Even after the Israeli government agreed to a ceasefire for several hours to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Hamas rockets fell on Israel.
430 new immigrants arrived in Israel on Wednesday. The Jerusalem Post reported that one immigrant, Eric Azizi, who came with his wife and three children said, “Our coming does not depend on the war, but [is] because of our children; Even if Israel is burning, we will be there.”
Last Saturday, we celebrated the birthdays of my two grandsons. About half an hour into the celebrations, the siren was heard. We all ran to the safe room in their house. Three generations of our family in a small shelter. The kids played on the floor on mattress with their toys until we heard the boom of Iron Dome doing its job.
I heard several times on Israel radio stories of people who refused to leave their homes despite ongoing rocket attacks. One woman said, “The question of leaving isn’t even an option.
This is our home.” I guess that sums it up for all of us – this is our home.