Letters from the Gaza War - 2008-2009

  January 19, 2009 - cease fire  
Hi all,

It was nice to wake up this morning to my alarm clock at 6:10 instead of to fighter jets at 4:30 so it seems that the ceasefire is actually in place. It had to be done before Obama’s inauguration (tomorrow) as it would be a shame for Obama’s first mission in office to be an unsolvable failure (mid-east peace). As always in this part of the world  Testosterone rules.

Olmert’s ceasefire speech declared that we were stopping as we had achieved ALL our military goals. They were 1) stop rocket fire into the south of Israel. 2) topple the Hamas 3) try to free or get info on Gilad Shalit POW. Hanyia (Hamas) declared they were declaring a ceasefire due to their glorious victory over the Zionist oppressor. No rocket launchers were destroyed and no Hamas taken prisoner. Hamas had put fear into our (Israeli) hearts and showed what brave warriors they were. This in a nutshell is what was said.
I’ll start with the Hamas and their glorious victory…they hid in bunkers apparently under Shiffa hospital and barely fought. ( of the 10 Israeli soldiers killed 8 were from friendly fire). They allowed 1300 people to be killed (probably 1/3 civilians and the rest Hamas) and 15% of Gaza’s buildings to be destroyed and declare that as a victory. 4 Israeli civilians were killed and apparently 1290 houses hit but because of the safe rooms and the fairly accurate alert sirens no terrible damage was done.

As for Olmert 1) before the war 15 short distance smaller rockets fell daily on 250,000 people. At ceasefire 20 long range more dangerous rockets were falling daily on 1,000,000 people. 2) the Hamas is still in charge and no one likes us any better 3) Gilad Shalit’s fate is still a mystery. So does this mean we shouldn’t have started or we shouldn’t have stopped? Smarter people than me say that it will take a year for the repercussions to become clear. Hamas knows now that we mean business and if they start firing rockets again we will hit back. Some kind of solution to the Gazans lack of border crossings will have to be created. But if every time we open borders they smuggle weapons in or suicide bombers out they will have a hard time again. Israel has created a huge hospital station at Erez crossing to try and help the injured Palestinians and show some sign of goodwill towards the civilians. Partly the ceasefire came as Israeli’s were losing stomach for all the bloodshed especially after a Palestinian doctor who works in Israel and is involved in the peace movement had his house shelled killing 3 of 5 daughters.

Just after my last letter on “saving water” Jay got caught in the shower all soaped up during an alert siren-good thing it wasn’t Hela or me. The menfolk sort of treat this all like a bad joke…macho. Despite the fact that all told the rockets did relatively little damage it is hard to describe the terror an Alert siren and ensuing booms of rockets hitting instill. When we see reports from Gaza we feel awkward that we (whose houses still stand) are scared but the complete randomness of who gets hurt and who doesn’t and the inability to control your surroundings is frightening in and of itself. You hear a siren, run to take cover and wait for the boom…hoping it will be far away. Sat.evening we heard a huge boom and it sounded fairly close…it was in Ashdod 14km. away. The rocket fell exactly in the middle of the road. There is a school and synagogue and row of kindergartens on one side and a row of apartment buildings on the other. Aside from some broken glass and almost hitting a city bus once again no one was injured. We have some pieces from the rocket that fell in our orchard and every rocket is packed with metal balls-each one intended to pierce-like a bullet-and kill. It is still miraculous how few people were actually injured. All 3 kids have school today-short days in bomb shelters and if the ceasefire holds school should gradually get back to usual. “Usual” will never exactly be the same as we now know that we are within rocket range and we are pretty sure that next time they will have newer and better rockets so they will be able to hit another 20km. north until all of Israel will be under rocket fire potential either from the south or the north. All of you who have visited recently-Dorothy, Jacki, Carolyn, Jay’s family know that despite all this Israel is a modern, beautiful country with lots to see and enjoy. Be well, enjoy the inauguration spectacles and keep in touch.

Bye Tzippi
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