Friday was quiet for us in Jerusalem. In the morning we met with friends with whom we share Johrei, an alternative Japanese energy-healing practice. We included the situation and region in our meditation and prayers for peace. Other than making sure we knew where the safe area was located, it was much as our other monthly gatherings where we study a short text, exchange Johrei with each other, visit, and eat some food.
The afternoon was our usual Friday shopping, preparing for Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner, the kids playing and not napping. What we call “Friday” or “Yom Shishi” in Hebrew (Sixth Day).
Today we went to a friend’s synagogue to join in honoring his retirement from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, then joined other good friends for lunch. They have a son Moshe’s age (and in the same preschool) and a daughter just a little younger than Naomi. Another couple with a baby daughter in the same age-range joined. The kids played together as well as kids ever do (actually better than some times). We returned home and the day was just as any other Shabbat (on the Seventh Day, we rested).
It was particularly hot today, so we had the AC on and windows closed. A little before 7, later than usual for the kids, we were getting supper together and then eating in the kitchen with the usual family hubbub going on: conversation, kids chatter, dish clatters. I had plugged my phone in to charge in the bedroom and left it there, apparently still on silent from when we were at the synagogue.
So, we didn’t hear the sirens or the alert on my phone around that time. We also missed the booms that other friends reported hearing on their Facebook posts. It wasn’t until I thought of my phone and went to get it about 45 minutes after the “Code Red” alert that we knew anything had happened. Frankly, it was a pleasant way to go through the attack, albeit not the safest.
Reports are that rockets fell short of the city, in Bethlehem (Palestinian Authority territory) and near Hebron (also PA area). One hit near a family member’s house in Efrata (next to Bethlehem). Since then, Hamas launched rocket attacks at Tel Aviv and several other targets. We seem to be on an every-other-day schedule here in Jerusalem.
The reports of the number of deaths in Gaza (over 150 as of this writing—source), many civilians and children, are horrifying reminders of the need to resolve the situation here. Many see it as unresolvable, but where does that leave us? A constant state of war cannot continue. I don’t know how to arrive at the solution, but we need two states, economic sustainability for each, and reliable security for both. The devil is in the details…
Update: The deaths and injuries in Gaza are indeed tragic. As of this update, the count for deaths has been put by Gaza’s Health Ministry at over 156, injuries at over 1,000, according to the AP, which also cites a statistic of over 1,200 air strikes [source]. The fact that many of these deaths are civilians and children grieves me as it should any person.
However devastating the numbers of deaths and injuries, these numbers also show that Israel is not likely “targeting” civilians or even enemy combatants for that matter, to borrow a phrase from the US. A quick calculation shows the ratio is 1 Palestinian killed for every 7–8 air strikes (taking the 156 / 1200 numbers), and still not even 1 injury for every air strike.
I don’t condone the violence or the heavy military response. Yet, the tolls could easily be dozens dead and two or three times that injured for each air strike. The fact that they are not that high supports Israel’s claim that it targets infrastructure, weapons stores, and does not target civilians. The numbers point to evidence of restraint and not an act of “massacre” as some Pro-Hamas protestors claim.
—13 July 2014