Thursday, November 22, 2012

Letters From Israel: Cease! Fire!

GUSH KATIF VIEWPOINT 184                                                           November 22, 2012

CEASE !     FIRE  !    by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan

Last night a ceasefire was declared. The Gazans couldn't control themselves. Dozens of rockets rained down on us in the last half hour before the ceasefire was due to begin, at 9pm. Sirens wailed constantly as we ran to the sewer pipe shelter over and over and over again. At 11pm there were two more rounds. They caught me fast asleep and only when I heard the explosions did I turn in my bed and go back to sleep.

It is morning. Calm has been restored. We get an SMS from Home Front Security: "Stay near a shelter. Schools remain closed. No large gatherings." We are non-believers in the ceasefire. We are cautious. Our ears await the next siren. My stomach is still in knots. Waiting.

One of my granddaughters was caught in Tel Aviv when the sirens began. She ran into a bank and found herself surrounded by pensioners in the bank vault. Her second siren found her in the Azrieli Towers, an upscale mall. There she stood, in a protected stairwell filled with shoppers and shopping bags, for a full ten minutes as recommended by Homeland Security.

Last night we promised a neighbor's children we would show them the famous Kassem rocket that had fallen on our lawn in Gush Katif. Printed clearly in Arabic on the rocket's fins are the words 'Al Kuds' meaning 'Jerusalem'. It is quite clear: their target is not the south of the country, but all of Israel as represented by our capital.

Late afternoon I took my daily walk around the block. The quiet is palpable. The lack of children playing outside, bicycles leaning against retaining walls, the musical change-of-period chimes in our makeshift schoolyards without the sounds of children, are all signs of a community that has evaporated.

It is raining. Blessed rain is falling on the land of Israel. The rain is our Jewish soul crying for our dead and wounded. There is thunder, much too similar to the sounds of an explosion.

I have made plans with my younger daughter to go shopping in Ashkelon on Sunday. A simple, ordinary task that we have had to postpone. Let us hope that the ceasefire holds.

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