Rounds of Escalation

“Rounds of escalation” is a common phrase in Israel. It is what we say every time the security situation deteriorates. Sometimes it refers to the situation in the west bank, and sometimes it is the security in Gaza. Lately, it’s both. On the one hand it is alarming, marking that it is becoming increasingly more dangerous to live your life. To remind you that you are not safe. On the other hand, it means that this is temporary, and it will pass. Eventually you could go back to live your life again. For us who grew up in the south of Israel, in the area that is closer to the Gaza Strip, it is a lifestyle.

It wasn’t always like this. When my grandparents were young in Beer Sheva, about 40 years ago, they remember the situation very differently. I still hear the stories about them going to the market in the main street of Gaza, or to the beautiful coastal strip for a swim. It all changed after the situation escalated. Terror organizations like Hamas and Jihad entered the area, and with the disengagement plan in 2005, they gained full control. After that, they started terrorizing the area. Both the cities of the south and the residents of Gaza. Jews and Muslims alike.

This is how my life has looked like for the past 20 years. With rounds of escalation, one after the other, every few months. They fire missiles towards us, we go to shelter, wait a few days\weeks until it is over, the army reacts, eventually a ceasefire fire is struck, and repeat. It doesn’t require a lot to ignite things in the area, and when things do escalate, the first question that comes up is who shot first. The argument about facts and responsibilities is important, but it’s not what this piece is about. What I do want to focus on is the experience of growing up in a conflicted environment, my childhood.

And again, at the end of June we saw another round of escalation. Two armed Hamas affiliated men opened fire, murdering 4 Israelis in a restaurant, causing a violent retaliation from settlers towards innocent others. These rounds of violence hurt every time. And all of us pay the price. We are stuck in a loop of rounds of escalation. Waiting for the current one to end, and for the next one to begin.

A lot of Israelis are not afraid of a successful Palestinian state. We are afraid that it wouldn’t be. That it will deteriorate to chaos, enabling terror organizations to arm themselves and fire missiles to all of Israel, north to south, and not just from Gaza. But we can’t give up on the dream of a peaceful life. We must work for it, actual groundwork, and hope that one day a fitting solution in the right conditions will emerge.

Asur Le’abed Tikvah – We can’t lose hope.