WE MUST ALL STAND AGAINST TERRORISM! Maia Brenner and Romina Silberstain
Have you heard about the conflict between Israel and Hamas? You probably have, considering everyone is talking, discussing, debating, and arguing about it. It is for this that we, Maia Brenner and Romina Silberstein, want to tell you our own and personal story on how we are living this. Fortunately or unfortunately, we are currently living in Israel and are therefore able to tell you this story closely and in first person.
We arrived in Israel on February 2012, as part of a Masa program for leaders in Jewish Youth Movements. Coming from Chazit Hanoar, our movement in Uruguay, we were extremely eager to experience how people live in Israel and be part of the community here.
Our first experience with the conflict in the middle east was during the first part of our program, Machon LeMadrijim , where we were traveling and visiting Israel north to south. However, our plans changed as soon as were told that we were not able to go to the south for security reasons. On March 16th 2012, we did not yet know the exact reasons for our trip to be cancelled. They informed us that few rockets were being fired towards the south of Israel, but we weren’t too aware or worried much. Our program continued as planed: after Machon we studied in the University of Tel Aviv and later on volunteered in different parts of the country.
Our last stop in Israel was spending two months in a kibbutz called Hatzerim, located in the south of Israel, more or less five minutes away from Beer Sheva, and just thirty-two kilometres away from Gaza. On our first day, we were informed about the security measures, which included the instructions we had to follow in case of rocket attacks. As young Uruguayan teenagers, we joked about it, unaware of how close we were to that experience.
Only two weeks after arriving to Hatzerim, on Saturday 27th of October, the loud sound of the siren surprised us. This meant we needed to run to the shelter, as rockets were being fired near us. Trying to stay calm, we did as we were instructed and ran to the eastern room which was the safest place in the building. We had to get there in only 30 seconds. Once inside the room we all looked at each other not understanding what was going on. In the midst of all the confusion, we didn’t know how to respond to our nerves; some of us were laughing and others were crying. A couple of minutes later, we were able to hear an explosion and immediately saw our windows and door shaking. To our surprise, we got out of the shelter, and the Kibbutz life continued normally. For the first time in our lives, we were experiencing what life in the south of Israel actually is like.
This same siren went off a couple of times. OBVIOUSLY NON OF IT APPEARED IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA! Just the people in the south, us and our worried parents and friends knew about this situation.
We soon realized our routine needed to start changing; We started taking fast showers, sleeping with our clothes and walking faster so the siren would not surprise us.
On Wednesday 14th of November, things started getting out of control. We were told that the dining room was not opening, and were soon informed by our madrich (leader) that Israel had killed Ahmed Jabari, a political activist and the second-incommand of the military wing of Hamas who was also involved in the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, and the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF), was starting a new operation called Pillar of Defense. It was for these reasons that Hatzerim was no longer a safe place for us and so we had to leave to another kibbutz.
The day we were leaving the kibbutz, the siren surprised us again. Only some of us were able to get to the refugee ( this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbM9dCp10ek&sns=em was recorded by one of our uruguayan friend that didn’t make it to the refugee). As you can see in the video, rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by the Israeli anti rockets technology right on top of our heads.
The nightmare was only just starting, and that night we were not able to leave the kibbutz and had to sleep in the refugee. The siren kept on going off from time to time. When we were all finally able to fall asleep, convincing ourselved that everything was over, we were awakened once again by the horrible sound of the siren. We realized this terrible nightmare was only getting worse. That night more than 15 rockets were fired towards Beer Sheva and at least 3 of those rockets were aimed to hit the Hatzerim air force base, located only 2 km away from our kibbutz. At 7.00 am our madrichim woke us up and hurried us out of the kibbutz.
In order to get to the other kibbutz, we had to go through Beer Sheva, considerend one of the most dangerous places at the moment. Once on the bus, we were told that when the siren went off, we had to “calmly” get out of the bus and run as far away as we could from it. That trip was eternal for all of us, who could not rest for a second as we were looking for places to run to if this did happen.
At last, we arrived to the kibbutz Revivim, 62 km away from Gaza.
This is where we are now, writing this to you, hoping and praying for this conflict to be over.
Fortunatelly the state of Israel has garanteed us with the necesary security. Hadn’t been for the siren, the refugee constructed in every building, and the anti-missil technology the end of this story would not be the same.
It is unbelievable to think how much we thought we knew about living in Israel before we actually got to experience this. It is only now that we can actually say it, as we try to get used to this life.
Probably this story, like most, will not get to the international media, and will not change the uneducated opinions people are giving about the conflict. We hope this article will help at least some people understand, how difficult and horrifying life can be in Israel. This is only our story, two Uruguayan 18-year-old teenagers who are currently in Israel. However, there are thousands of other stories worth hearing and knowing.
Our hearts are with all the victims and families who are suffering. We hope peace will reach all our homes soon.
Chazak ve´ ale.
Maia Brenner and Romina Silberstein.
Chazit Hanoar Uruguay
ps. this article was written on Wensday 20th November! I was about to published it, when I got a call from my father. A BUS HAS JUST EXPLODED IN TEL AVIV CITY CENTER!!.I’m still in shock and don’t know exactly what to write.
I just ask my self
WHAT ELSE ARE WE GOING TO TOLERATE?
DO WE HAVE TO GET USED TO TERRORISM?
WE MUST STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!
Today most than ever we must stand against TERRORISM! — con Romina Silberstein