Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Taste of War

The closest I have ever been to war is watching coverage of Canadian troops on television and history books and videos. In the last few years there have been a rash of gang violence not that far from where I lived. In terms of feeling the effects of those battles they might as well been on the other side of the city.

With the war in the South we find ourselves just outside of the front lines. Homefront Command has established a 40km radius around the Gaza strip as the danger areas. Schools have been closed saving countless lives as rockets have landed in Kindergartens and other schools during school hours. Rockets have landed as close to us as Kiryat Gat (35km from Gaza) 20 minutes down the highway from us. My Tuesday Ulpan teacher lives in Kiryat Gat. They don't have any type of bomb shelters in the area she lives. She has relocated to Bat Yam until after the war.

There are some fears that the front lines could be extended to 60km. There are a number of factors that could keep us out of harms way if such a situation arises. If someone has a missile that could hit Bet Shemesh or Tel Aviv, they will be aiming for Tel Aviv. We are up in the Judean mountains. The altitude of the various mountains would reduce the range a missile could travel. We are also surrounded by a bunch of Arab villages. While Hamas would have not have an ounce of regret if it were to hit a village it is not their primary targets. We have closed the steel grate over the window in the Mamad (sealed room). There is not much more that would need to be done to have it completely ready. Unlike the people on the very front lines that have 15 seconds to make it to shelter we would have a whole minute and fifteen seconds.

We can still feel how close the war is. Planes and helicopters regularly fly overhead. There was one night where I could hear a fly by and see the results in the news 20 minutes later. The children not only know the difference between a jet and a plane, they can identify the difference by sound alone. For the first week of the war, all of the noise kept Channah awake. Yesterday the children were enjoying watching the smoke trails the planes were leaving behind.

Yesterday, Channah didn't full grasp learning about Asara b'Tevet in school. I explained to her that it was the day they broke down the door to the gate in Jerusalem. As she was familiar with Yaffo gate it really brought it down to her level. She then responded "Hashem sent the helicopters to shoot the bad people."

We are also in a position to be able to help. We are on the list of places willing to take in people should the need arise. More people have volunteered spots than are currently required. Rachel has been taking care of the website for the big local tzdakah organization offering help. The Matnas where I take Ulpan has been over run by two schools that are busing in kids everyday, so that they can continue with their lessons. Other schools are also taking in schools from the South.

It is strange being so close to the battle lines. I would rather be here, where I can make a difference, than having to deal with such vicious and unfounded attacks focused on Israel from around the world.

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