Monday, July 17, 2006

The north and the south of it

Sunday July 16 2006

Dear family and friends,

Having a super active high need baby does make it difficult to sit down for long enough to actually write something coherent, but under the circumstances considering the deluge of e-mails and phone calls we’ve had I thought it might be prudent to at least try.

Everyone wants to know how we are doing, how we are “bearing up”. I admit it’s a little strange being asked that question. Small as Israel is, thank God, living south-east of Tel Aviv, as of now we are nowhere near the front lines or the areas under attack.

After several phone conversations I realize how hard the whole situation is to convey to folks abroad who watch their television sets and don’t understand how where I live in central Israel, life goes on pretty much as normal and an hour and a half drive away to the north people are in their shelters under rocket bombardment.

Still, Israel is the kind of place where everyone is no more, and often far less, than six degrees removed from everyone else and pretty much everyone I know has friends and family somewhere in the country who are directly affected by current events.

Shabbat afternoon in the park the lady pushing her child on the swing next to my daughter's had just received a call from her family up north.

They live in Carmiel, a town in north-west Israel which has been hit several times by Katyushas, and had gone to seek refuge in Tiberias, a town in north-east Israel, which until now had been safe.

That afternoon Hizballah fired rockets at Tiberias. This family were unharmed, but when they called friends in Carmiel to check in, they found out that one of the rockets fired at Carmiel that day scored a direct hit on their house there.

We know people in Sderot, Ashkelon, Carmiel, Haifa, Safed and other "frontline" areas north and south targetted by rocket attacks - ordinary folks living in otherwise ordinary places.

We pray and hope for better news, and for God to keep them safe, and for God to keep us all safe.

Those of us living in so far unaffected areas are well aware of Hizballah’s threats to get us too.

Only yesterday the Israeli Air Force hit a missile launcher carrying an Iranian made Zilzal missile – a weapon with the range to hit the greater Tel Aviv area. The strike on the launcher caused the missile to misfire, sending it careening into a junk yard of old tires where it started a massive fire.

The funny part, if one can find the humour in all this, that Hizballah’s Al Manar TV and other Arabic stations saw this thing falling from the sky and reported that an Israeli aircraft (God forbid) had been shot down, even claiming to have captured two pilots – thank God both reports turned out to be untrue. You could say they had egg on their faces when it turned out that the “Israeli plane” was actually the very missile Hizballah was planning to launch at Tel Aviv.

Just in case there are more of these though we have cleaned out our shelter, set up a tv with Seseame Street and other kids videos in there and stocked up on canned and dry foods and water - things that always come in handy. Odds are I’ll be making a lot of tuna and corn casseroles over the next few months.

I guess that answers your questions about whether we have a shelter. Pretty much everyone in Israel has one: in offices, public buildings, malls, houses and flats or a communal neighbourhood shelter which usually doubles up as a community centre or synagogue. It’s just a fact of life.

For those who say I’m too calm, most everyone I know is, even some people I spoke to in their shelters up north.

It’s kind of scary, but we've been through worse and God willing we will get through this.

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