I’m sure that, like us, you are deeply worried by the recent escalation in the Gaza region in the past 24 hours, with over 200 rockets fired from the strip at last count. Though we all follow the news updates regularly here in the UK, it is difficult to grasp what Israelis in the frontline are facing 24/7.
It is important to listen to the voices of civilians on the ground. That’s why we are sharing with you this message from Roni Keidar.
Roni lives on the border of Gaza in a Moshav called Nativ Ha’asara and is an active member of an organisation called Kol Acher (Other Voice). Kol Acher was set up by Israelis living close to the Gaza border to campaign for an end to the violence between Israel and Gaza. Many Yachad supporters have met Roni, and spent time with her in her home, when they have visited the region on a Yachad trip.
130 days of fires, 130 days of retaliations never quite knowing who started. Then every so often it flares up – rockets are launched – “Color Red” goes the alert, we have to run to a safe room, again and again and again. I remember the 29th of May. My daughter was visiting from abroad with her family. I let them sleep in the safe room and that night we had to join them there, time and time again. The fourth time, I was half asleep and as I reached the safe room the iron door closed on my hand crushing it badly. My daughter took one look at it and passed out. We were both rushed to hospital. What a night?!
As I looked at my mobile I saw a list of missed calls and messages, many of which from my friends in Gaza, yes my friends. “How are you and your family?” “I am scared.” When will this ever end?” “This is not a life!” True, that is exactly it. This is not a life, not for us but definitely not for them. What do we expect of people who live in such a rut as they do – a population of 70% under the age of 30, with 65 % unemployed, 50% under the age of 16, electricity 3-4 hours a day and no clean water?
Is it really a surprise that once again, we are at square one with over 2 million people with no way out, with nothing to do. I found those who believe in peace and are ready to stand up for peace. Why don’t we strengthen them? I believe we can join forces and reach an agreement but we have got to start trusting one another and understand that life there = life here and there is no other way.
As supporters of Israel, and Jews with deep connections to the region, our hearts break as we see another round of violence begin to unfold. These are the ordinary Israelis and Palestinians, like Roni, who will suffer through it.
Whatever happens with this round of violence, there can be no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as my colleague Maya has written in today’s Jewish Chronicle. In the absence of a negotiated political resolution to the conflict and the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, these same battles will be fought again and again. We must do all we can to help break the cycle of violence.