Jerusalem Update—10 July 2014

Aviva and the children are asleep on this hot summer’s night. Today the temperature reached 36 C., well into the 90s F., and it hasn’t cooled as much as usual yet. Unfortunately, the heat of conflict also was high. We are all fine, of course, other than Moshe’s bug (finally on a second round of antibiotics).

To the situation here in Jerusalem: I’ve read that over 100 rockets from Gaza were fired. The anti-missile system, Iron Dome, seems to be intercepting most of those that are headed for populated areas, which is being cited as a major reason why there have been no deaths yet in Israel from the rockets. Let’s give a cheer for Iron Dome.

I was going to go to Tel Aviv today as I have a student exam to pick up there, but the first rocket barrage on Tel Aviv began before 8 this morning. So, I decided the exam could wait until Sunday, the next time the college campus will be open. It allowed me to accompany Moshe and Aviva on the medical circuit that resulted in antibiotics.

This evening at bath time, literally when I had both children in the bath, the sirens went off for the second time during this conflagration. Aviva joined us in the bathroom, which is an interior room and relatively safe. The estimates are that we have 60 seconds from the siren to the rockets hitting, so it was not practical to grab them from the bath, especially as Naomi still requires diapers.

We could hear the booms, something like the big bangs during a firework show heard from around the corner of the fireworks. We now have a song that Aviva found on the internet that is used by some schools in southern Israel for the alerts. Aviva sang it with me joining where I could understand the Hebrew. We have played it for Moshe and Naomi on the computer, and both like it, so it did its job for them.

Moshe has been trying to work through this, talking a lot about spaceships (=rockets), telling them not to be wild (like the “wild” kids at pre-school), finding them and making them small; also about teaching lots of people how to be nice and not hit other people (like the rockets “hit”). He wanted his bedroom window closed tonight to keep the rockets out, too.

He is doing what kids do to deal—playing, imagining, taking control in the play. He told me that a rocket hit the roof of his pre-school and he saw a crack and could see the spaceship. So he showed the spaceship to the teachers, and they took it away while he fixed the crack. I think that is about as healthy a response we could hope for, under the circumstances, but the fact that he has to do this perhaps pisses me off more than the rockets themselves.

I don’t want to go much into the politics of it all here and now, but one thing I read in the BBC today I think is worth sharing.

The house (and cafe) that were hit by Israel today where there were multiple civilians killed, including some children, had been warned by Israel. The report says that Israel had actually telephoned and told them to evacuate due to a pending attack. It seems that they even called twice. The house, according to the BBC, was that of a Hamas Commander.

Now, after the warnings, according to a Palestinian news service (not an Israel outlet that could be spinning propaganda), “dozens” of civilians gathered on the roof. The Israeli spokesman, who called the deaths tragic, said that when they realized civilians were at the house the missile had already been launched (okay, that could be spin). Add to this news reports locally that the Hamas Ministry of Interior ordered residents to ignore warnings, saying they were intended to spread fear (psych ops, I suppose). Hamas publicly states that they target civilians and has never, that I have heard, described an Israeli death as tragic.

I don’t agree with violence and war as solutions. However, the war is on now.

And I think there is a remarkable and significant difference between one side, which actually calls on the phone to warn people to get out, and the other, which tells their own citizens to ignore these warnings and (reports in Israel say) encourages or even forces residents to go on the rooftops of buildings when the warnings come.

Sorry to be on a soapbox. Yet, this difference needs to be pointed out. It is important.

I am appalled that Israel’s missiles kill children and civilians. I don’t like that we are at war. However, I think the moral responsibility for those deaths belongs to Hamas in this case. It’s horrendous. Yet, it benefits Hamas either way—if Israel refrains from attacking because of the civilians, Hamas’ infrastructure remains intact; if Israel strikes and civilians, including children, die, Hamas gains propaganda points when the deaths are reported in the media.

Golda Meir is supposed to have said: “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.” This episode in Gaza gives some sense of what she could have meant, if you substitute children for sons.

I am aware that Netanyahu probably contributed more than Hamas to this conflagration’s start with his heavy-booted arrests of West Bank Hamas supporters, cynically using the search for three kidnapped teens (that he knew were likely dead already) as an excuse.

Yet Hamas took the bait and began firing rockets at schools and nurseries, toward civilian populations. And Netanyahu and his cabinet didn’t need much encouragement to enter into full battle.

There is more than enough blame to go around.

Yet, Hamas continues to act in ways that are reprehensible and not justified by any amount of aggression from Israel—like deliberately putting civilians and children in harm’s way.

So, enough of that. It is not as though our days are filled with dread or anger. We are paying close attention to the news all day, and I have my iPhone alerts app on, so we are constantly paying attention in some ways.

On the other hand, after doctor, labs and chest X-ray for Moshe, we rode the light-rail a couple of stops, had some sorbet with Moshe, stopped in a few shops and bought him some bubbles, blew bubbles in Ben Yehuda market (a famous tourist area), and then went back those couple of stops to the car. Moshe loves riding the train, so it was great fun for him, even though he was not feeling well.

And we were not the only ones out and about, downtown looked more or less normal.

Now, I’m going to do what I normally do—make my next move in Scrabble, Lexulous and Words-with-Friends online, read a bit, and go to bed.


An update, thanks to a friend’s post on Facebook. An Slate.com column by William Saletan makes the same point about Israel’s efforts to prevent casualties. Saletan provides more details of the attack on the house that I wrote about above:

“The worst civilian death toll—seven, at the latest count—occurred in a strike on the Khan Yunis home of a terrorist commander. Hamas calls it a ‘massacre against women and children.’ But residents say the family got both a warning call and a knock on the roof. An Israeli security official says Israeli forces didn’t fire their missile until the family had left the house. The official didn’t understand why some members of the family, and apparently their neighbors, went back inside. The residents say they were trying to ‘form a human shield.'”

Read the whole story here.

BBC Map of Gaza (insert: range of rockets in Israel)

BBC Map of Gaza (insert: range of rockets in Israel)

5 replies »

  1. I want to say I enjoyed reading this, though I don’t enjoy what you’re all having to deal with. There is too much war and violence and normal citizens, like your family, are caught in the middle. Yet I do appreciate learning first hand from you at what’s happening. May you all be safe.


  2. I want to say I enjoyed reading this, though I don’t enjoy what you’re all having to deal with. There is too much war and violence and normal citizens, like your family, are caught in the middle. Yet I do appreciate learning first hand from you at what’s happening. May you all be safe.


  3. Your posts are so riveting I feel almost like I’m in Israel, though I’m in Rochester, MN USA. Thank you for writing them and sharing your life with others. Moshe sounds like a wonderful little boy and I hope he is feeling better.
    Harriet Hodgson, Grandmother, Health/Wellness Writer


    • Thank you. I’m from the Twin Cities originally, so hi to Minnesota.

      Moshe is a great young boy. Another thing he said today:

      Moshe to Aviva: “ I was taking a boat to get to the Night Garden, and saw a rocket coming so I got up on a ladder and went up to the space ship and told the rocket, ‘Go away and don’t come back until you’re ready to be not wild with me!’ Ima, is that a good thing to say to a rocket?”


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