Summer 2006: The year the north came south

November 24, 2016 22:51

I was about to write a blog recalling the nightmare summer that began with Gilad Shalit's kidnap three years ago, but I've just found a piece I wrote back in August 2006 during the Second Lebanon War and I'd prefer to post these real-time observations of that summer.

August 11 2006

This is the first summer that we are home alone; our children are all abroad at the moment.

A while ago, we thought about we might do during July and August. We decided to stay in Israel. There's no point in a beach holiday abroad if you live ten minutes from Herzliya and we didn't want to pay high season prices to visit a foreign capital.

So this became the year that we were going to tour the north of Israel. Instead, the north of Israel has come to us. Hundreds and thousands of evacuees are currently taking refuge in the centre of the country from the barrage of Katyushas raining down on northern cities.

The total nightmare that this summer has become actually began on June 25, with the kidnap of Gilad Shalit. Who even remembers now that two soldiers were killed when Palestinian terrorists attacked an army post after crossing the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel via a an underground tunnel?

And then came July 12. More soldiers kidnapped and killed, this time by Hezbollah. A friend reminded me recently that as the World Cup final ended, I asked: "What are we going to do now?" Who would have thought that in a matter of days, continuous football would be replaced by blanket war coverage? Who would have believed that what promised to be a quiet summer would hold devastation, fear and mourning?

Each day starts as the previous one ended – with dread at what the news may hold. I force myself to confront the newspaper containing touching obituaries of each fatality. I sob every morning as I read. Through the day I call friends and relatives whose sons are in Lebanon. Mostly they haven't heard anything for days on end, but on a good day, I'll be told: "He called for the first time in a week. At last I heard his voice." Or: "He’s got a few hours’ leave so we’re going up north to see him." One friend is crying with relief just to have received a text message from her son.

It’s the 12th anniversary of our arrival as new olim. How excited and optimistic we were, to be living here at what seemed like such a hopeful time in Israel’s history. Very quickly our illusions were shattered, and we have lived through very difficult times already: relentless suicide terror attacks; the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin; the intifada and the second Gulf War.

But this is the worst of times. Now the future is frightening and uncertain. On our northern border sits a large army of terrorists whose declared aim is the destruction of Israel. They form a state within a state, they are armed to the hilt, and they can attack us at will with impunity. We left Lebanon and Gaza and we have been attacked inside our border. How are we to respond? We are damned if we do, and doomed if we don’t. End ‘the occupation’ and all will be well, we are told by just about everyone. Well, maybe. But let’s have recognition by the whole Arab world of Israel’s right to exist in secure borders first. Then we can talk about the disputed territories.

November 24, 2016 22:51

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