By Nurit Galon
As I write this, sitting in the calm of my house in Kibbutz Galon, in the Regional Council of Yoav, and looking out at the gardens and flowers, there is a strange silence. No toddlers' voices on a walk with their nursery and kindergarten teachers, no elementary and high schools students arguing about their exams and the next sports tournaments, very few cars on the circle road around the kibbutz and a minimum of tractors. What has happened?
Yesterday at 9 a.m., most of us were taking it easy with our second cup of coffee. An hour later, the south of Israel was virtually at war. Once again, the orders went out: Open all the shelters. Make sure the "safe rooms" (for those who have them) are uncluttered and provided with all necessary items—water, toys for the children, first aid equipment, basic food products.
Keep the children nearby and remind everyone what to do when the sirens announcing that rockets are en route chill all our hearts. No safe room? Try to use the 15-45 seconds before the rocket falls to get to a shelter. No shelter? Lie flat on your stomach and cover your head with your hands.
Preparation for a comedy movie? Unfortunately not. This is real life almost daily by the Gaza strip, in Shderot, in Ashkelon, and this time in Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, Yoav, Lachish, Beit Shemesh and, for the first time, Arad and Rehovoth.
In the last 24 hours, over 500 rockets were launched against our cities, towns, kibbutzim and moshavim that are in the 40-kilometer range from Gaza. The terrorist organization Hamas has tens of thousands of rockets ready to be launched against our citizens. There are already Israeli casualties killed and wounded in addition to thousands of adults and children who are in trauma and severe stress, and there is heavy damage to houses and property.
Today there are no schools, day care centers or nurseries open throughout the above regions. This means that thousands of babies and children and students and their parents must stay at home close to safe rooms or shelters. And in the background, the code word for danger and in which area is being broadcast constantly over the radio.
For the people living in the kibbutzim and moshavim close to Gaza, this has become an impossibly frequent part of their daily lives. Do they get used to it? NEVER! For thosewho experience this happening much less frequently, it is terrifying and incomprehensible. When will this particular bout end? And how? What agreements will be made? Will this just be a pause to enable the Eurovision Festival to take place in Tel Aviv next week? To give us a false sense of security so that we can celebrate Independence Day? Then what? Will our government make a long term settlement? Or are we destined for a constant replay?
Tuesday evening is the Eve of Remembrance Day, with memorials all over the country for our soldiers and citizens who gave their lives so that Israel can survive and flourish and involves every citizen—is there anyone here who is not connected to a bereaved family? Wednesday is Remembrance Day itself, and I can think of little more moving than at 11 a.m. when the memorial siren is heard throughout the country, and everything and everyone stands still for two minutes in memory of the price we have paid and still are paying, for this wonderful, dynamic, funny and annoying country of Israel.
Thursday—no matter what!—we shall join with you, our family and partners and the Jewish People everywhere, to celebrate Independence Day.
May I end with this poem for Remembrance Day:
We should continue to sing—because they sang,
We should continue to laugh—because they laughed,
We should continue to love—for they loved,
We should continue to live—because they wanted so much to live.