By Nurit Galon
Surely the following story is science fiction.
Surely it’s all lies made up by the Israelis.
Surely the Nazi era is long past.
Surely the kibbutzim and moshavim bordering the Gaza Strip have lived so long with the threat from bordering Arab extremist groups, and look how well they handle all the crises.
Surely the inhabitants of these communities are sleeping peacefully in their beds, enjoying the early hours of Shabbat.
No. There is no surely. Never again.
Saturday, October 7, 6 a.m.
Such loud bangs and booms! Who on earth is making so much noise this early on Shabbat, we think, irritated. And then out of nowhere come the alerts and warning sirens. Not possible, we tell each other. After all, we are not near the Gaza Strip (as though that would make it all right.)
Thus began the ongoing nightmare. Much has been written about what happened to the people and their homes — the senseless and well-planned murders of the settlers of all ages by the Hamas who crossed the border with detailed plans of which families lived where, how many members in each family. This was a rampage with only one aim: kill, rape, kidnap and torture, from newborn babies to Holocaust survivors in their 90s.
And the photos and videos. Whole families, loaded onto tractors and Jeeps and dragged off to Gaza. Mothers holding babies, toddlers completely bewildered.
Finally, our soldiers arrived and slowly the unbelievable became believable. Bodies all over, homes on fire and, at the same time, the questions. Could it be possible that after the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago that once again we were taken by surprise? And at a huge price. Some 300 young people at a music festival in the area were shot down like animals, with few managing to escape.
Today Israel is a country in mourning for all our killed and wounded, kidnapped and missing. We fear for the missing and kidnapped, and our hearts go out to the members of their families who wait in a permanent state of dread and hope. How do you sleep at all?
We are immensely proud of our soldiers, men and women who daily are raising our morale, even though they are aware of the hard days in front of us. We will demand, when all this is hopefully over, that those responsible for our unreadiness will be called on to pay the price. Above all, we desperately need the support of the world, which for the first days was sympathetic but already is demonstrating against us. And we pray for the safety of Jewish communities around the world.
President Joe Biden’s speeches and visit were amazing and so supportive, exactly when they were needed. In our eyes it took courage for the president to come to a war zone and to speak out in our support. He also took the time to meet with each of the families of our kidnapped.
We are so lucky that we have our Lehigh Valley Jewish community behind us. We thank you for your support and want you to take care of yourselves. Together we shall succeed.