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The Gaza Border Region

Nov/Dec 2019 WFJ Article

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20 Nov 2019
The Gaza Border Region

The Gaza border region: Visiting some of Israel’s most vulnerable communities
 

During the Feast of Tabernacles, 45 delegates toured one of Israel’s most vulnerable regions: Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev. Bordering the Gaza strip, these communities are often targeted by terrorists’ fire missiles, mortars and balloons equipped with flammables and explosive devices. Our tour was accompanied by ICEJ-Aid Director Nicole Yoder and Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield, with whom ICEJ cooperates in setting up bomb shelters in vulnerable areas. 

In Kibbutz Magen we visited a karate club where children as young as four learn to defend themselves with their mere bodies. This form of self-defence is insufficient against rockets, so the students now also have access to a bomb shelter located right outside the building, thanks to the generous donation of ICEJ Switzerland. Following demonstration of a firefighting ATV, Ilan Isaacson, Head of Security of the Eshkol region, briefed us on the current security situation. Overlooking Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second largest city, we could sense Ilan’s sympathy towards the people of Gaza, also held hostage by terror organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and his deep hope that one day Israelis and Gazans would freely engage with each other as in the past. As we were listening, a fire balloon was reported near the Kibbutz we had been moments before.

Our final stop was Hetz Shachor, where the Deputy Head of Security of the Sha’ar HaNegev region explained how the local population stands together in administering trauma treatment and developing programs to build resilience. Their biggest challenge is not the missiles themselves, but the resulting traumatic effects on the residents. Since the first missiles were fired in 2001, an entire generation of children have grown up knowing nothing but a persistent missile barrage. People suffer from sleepless nights, depression and relive their trauma, unable to find closure. Nevertheless, Israelis from all parts of the country are moving to these areas and the population is steadily growing. Many are stirred by a deep love for the land and by the strong sense of community felt throughout these regions. Please support the ICEJ Israel in Crisis fund and help provide life-saving bomb shelters and equipment for Israeli communities who live in the frontline of terrorism.

Petra Winter from Germany explaine, “Most of all I was impressed by the locals’ resilience. They could easily leave the area, but they choose to stay. I was very reluctant to join this trip today. During the morning devotion I suddenly felt an impulse that I had to come and see how the people here live. What caught my attention was that in Gaza, children are being trained to fight and kill, in Israel we saw children being trained in karate to defend themselves. Children on both sides are being deprived of their childhood.” 

 

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