There is a great sense of uncertainty in the air. Yes, the ground operation is behind us, our troops are back on Israeli soil, peace talks are taking place in Cairo and life is almost back to normal — that’s almost.
My family and I took advantage of the lull and vacationed in Israel’s gorgeous north, my favorite area of the country. With us were many Israelis escaping the endless news cycle and the war routine. Everywhere we went we saw signs thanking our troops and supporting the IDF. Attractions were offering special discounts in light of the unusual situation during this lull period and in an attempt to raise our collective morale.
We are in the midst of the unknown. These are days of great hope and of terrible anxiety. They are days of negotiating with a terror group that aims to destroy us, and a time where we must trust our leaders in order to reach an agreement. These are days where following our instincts and gut feelings is nothing but confusing. They are days of both overwhelming concerns and of a fragile reality. These are the five days —120 hours — of cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
As of today, the talks continue in Cairo. Palestinians are demanding that Israel recognize a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, and that a Gaza seaport and airport be constructed. Israel demands the demilitarization of the Strip.
Although the Israeli government and army has told residents of the south that it is safe to return home, many of them are still wary and have not done so. In the meantime, thousands of soldiers moved into these border communities, those located within 2.5 miles from the Gaza Strip and, in a way, the IDF’s front line. These communities, which mostly comprise kibbutzim and moshavim (small villages), are in a situation far different than that of the rest of Israel’s south. Infiltration through terror tunnels remains a very real threat. More than 80 percent of these communities’ residents fled their homes and moved to the north or the center of Israel.
Yesterday, 10,000 Israelis wearing red clothes gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to rally in solidarity with the Israeli residents of the Gaza-border communities. These communities have been under constant threat of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza since 2001. The rally united people across some of Israel’s often bitter divides: left and right, religious and secular.
The question repeated again and again is will the current situation change now that the fighting is over? Will the 14 years of constant missile barrage come to an end? Is it safe to return home? Will the children ever feel safe again?
For 14 years now, Israel’s southern residents associate the color of red with danger, since when a siren goes off, it announces “code red.” Children in these communities have a very different understanding of what red means, however. Red in the south really should mean the blossom of the anemone, a lovely red flower, the beauty of nature, the powerful cycle of life. Not these days and not for 14 years.
Today, 139 years ago, on the 19th of the Hebrew month of Av, Shaul Tchernichovsky, one of our great Hebrew poets, was born.
In one of his poems called “I Believe,” Tchernichovsky wrote:
…And I shall keep faith in the future,
Though the day be yet unseen
Surely it will come when nations
All live in blessed peace.
Then my people too will flourish
And a generation shall arise
In the land, shake off its chains
And see light in every eye…
Wishing us all a relaxing Shabbat followed by days of peace.