Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27


Tel Aviv

Day 11 of the war

Optimism is short lived.  It should have been an easy Sunday start to a work week here, given the 24 hour ceasefire announced at midnight last night. But it is a humanitarian ceasefire, which aside from being an oxymoron, means no differences are resolved. There are still tunnels and rockets and Hamas leaders hiding under populated areas of Gaza and firing upon populated areas of Israel.  The morning started with volleys in the south, and just now the cellphone pulsed:  rockets in Petach Tikva and Hod haSharon, both of which I visited yesterday. They’re nearby, and both are heavily populated. There’s their siren. There’s their intercept. Boom.  During yesterday’s humanitarian ceasefire, Israel neutralized 4 tunnels.

With that backdrop, we took a soldier, back from a sort of humanitarian leave of his own, to the train. Our soldier friend thinks it important to create safety for Israelis, and early this morning he went to re-equip and rejoin his elite group. I gave him a hug and felt like I was sending another son off to war. Collectively, we have sent thousands. The driver behind us stopped to hand over a bumper sticker that says we love and appreciate our soldiers. I have a rented car from Hertz; I think I need somewhere more permanent to put it.

We thought this would be over by now, but there are 20,000 (19,500 now) Hamas soldiers, equipped with thousands of rockets in perhaps dozens of tunnels, and Israel find itself up against a well-equipped, well-trained Hamas army without the benefit of a bona-fide government, just thugs hiding in Gaza City, the Tel Aviv of Gaza, where overflowing fruit stands feed a million people living above a series of well-lighted, man-height tunnels dug over 5 years with millions of dollars and UN cement. Hamas won’t relinquish them without a fight. Israel could use air power to get the job done, American style, but prefers to put its men at risk because it is more ‘humanitarian.’ As the mother of Israeli soldiers, that word is less and less clear to me.
I read this morning that the US faces a Middle East dilemma in neighboring Syria, as photographs of mass torture of political prisoners have come to light. A clear war crime, except Assad is more ‘humanitarian’ than the Sunni ISIS group who opposes him. Will that word ever ring true again?

Even the ultimate ‘humanitarian’ organization, the UN, has red in my ledger. They finally got their heads out of their backsides, looked around and found there were rockets hidden in their schools, both of them. Could happen… But they handed them back to the terrorists. Said it was protocol. They missed the rockets in the hospitals too, as well as the accompanying launchers. It was a set. Fictional spy novels have nothing on this region’s reality. If you look more closely, it gets better. The UN missed the rockets in schools and the hospitals because it was busy, providing Gazans essentially with all the services a government normally does. All of them. Which basically means they freed Hamas up over the last five years to fully focus on its job, to build a killer “Underground” system, which we finally realize stretches under Gaza end to end, with UN cement.

So with or without the US and/or the UN, we are still here, waiting and counting: 42 ended lives, 42 destroyed tunnels, neck in neck.

I have been here so long soldiers back from vacation need to re-equip. I have been here so long that I need to recolor, which gives me a new metric for counting: will I return to gray before war is over? The gray enemy is steadily gaining, especially these days, but I am pretty sure I can last 3 weeks. Hope I don’t have to reload before peace time.

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