Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Letters From Israel

GUSH  KATIF  VIEWPOINT 183                                                   November 20, 2012  

SEWER  PIPE  !   by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan

The Sewer Pipe cum shelter is now the center of our lives. The pipes were brought here after the Cast Lead War began almost four years ago. Rockets were exploding over our heads. With no type of shelter to protect us in our flimsy caravillas, the government imaginatively came up with concrete sewer pipes as the answer to our problem. The pipes cannot protect us from a direct hit, only from shrapnel. Now, when the Iron Dome missiles shoot down a rocket, shrapnel from the two projectiles rain down on us. A friend just found pieces of a Grad rocket, brought down by Iron Dome, in his front yard.

The original sewer pipes, a monotonous grey, were decorated with splashes of color. Often a message of hope and a prayer to the Almighty were added to the paintings. Over time, wind and rain have faded the colors.

Short benches were added to make the pipes more comfortable. They are regularly used by teenagers. Coffee cups, Coke bottles, ice cream wrappers and sticks are everywhere. I often bring broom and shovel to clean the pipe. On one occasion municipal workers weeding a deserted lot piled the prickly weeds at the entrances to the sewer pipe. Complaints to the municipality yielded no results. So I called the police. Having asked the policeman for his name, and adding a bit of flirtatious charm to my request, the debris was soon removed. A neighbor and I swept up the bits and pieces left behind.

Two large tombstone-like concrete formations guard the openings to the sewer pipe. In one of the areas each opening was designated for men or women. A painting of 770 Eastern Parkway adorns the pipe.

With fifteen seconds to run to the pipe one must move quickly. Our caravilla front door is left ajar all day. Possible hindrances are checked and removed. Wet leaves, overgrown hedges, plastic bags, cigarette boxes and candy wrappers blown in by the wind are carefully removed each day.

The siren sounds. We meet in the pipe. There are not enough seats to go around so some of us stand. We always force a smile as the horrific sounds of rockets exploding nearby makes us tremble. "That was close!" brings more of a grimace than a smile. As does "That was loud!" Younger children sit tearfully on adults laps. Older children make a game of running up the cylindrical wars. We wait a few minutes after the sirens have ceased and the explosives have fallen. Then we return to our caravillas to cook, clean and listen to endless broadcasts on tv and radio. Programs are interrupted by announcements as to where the next rockets are headed, giving us a precious few extra seconds.

The sounds of war, the endless sirens and explosions, dictate our lives. This must stop. We pray to the Almighty to give our government the courage to finish this war properly.

OPERATION DIGNITY needs your help. See our website, www.OperationDignity.com , for details.     

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