Nahariya by the Sea: Not a day at the Beach
For the second time in a week, we were back in Nahariya. The beautiful boardwalk was still beautiful, yet it was missing something — life. There wasn’t a single person walking along the beach. Virtually nothing was open. No shops, nor restaurants nor cafes. The same theme as our prior visit prevailed. With few exceptions, the city is closed. Going through the now familiar neighborhoods, I noticed more physical damage from the ongoing katyusha rocket attacks. We entered an apartment building where we could see that some apartments were destroyed from the rockets. One elderly resident who didn’t leave, because he had nowhere to go, told us that this very building is the same building where terrorists entered thirty two (32) years ago and murdered people in their own apartments. The bomb shelter of this building has no running water, nor air conditioning, etc. There are many, many, shelters that are in horrible condition in this city. Distribution in this city is very time consuming as the warning alarms are continually sounding and we have to continually pull over and run for cover. Of course the noises that follow, and sometimes that precede, the alarms are more frightening than the alarms since the rockets make a loud, thudding, noise as they land.
A Rough Day In Shlomi
It was a sunny day with intermittent showers. Not rain showers. It doesn’t rain in the holy land in August. The showers were a combination of mortar fire and katyusha rockets. Shlomi, the small town that lies very close to the Lebanese border was under attack once again. As we approached our first bomb shelter I noticed that people were leaving. Warning alarms were going off; yet these people were leaving the shelter! We asked them why they were leaving. They told us that they were going to their homes since there was a report that terrorists had entered the village and it would be safer to be in houses as opposed to the shelter where more people congregating would mean more targets for the terrorists. Is this what the national anthem Hatikva was written for? “To be a free Nation in our land”. Hardly.
The horrible sounds of mortar fire and katyushas never really abated throughout the day. Apparently the terrorists didn’t show up and the shelters filled up again. We distributed diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper, plastic plates, forks, knives and spoons, spring water, and other necessities. Overall the shelters were in better condition than those in Nahariya.
We went street after street, block after block. It was exhausting as we rushed from shelter to shelter. We wanted to give out the supplies as quickly as possible and that was becoming difficult as we were forced over and over again to take cover from rocket attacks. Finally, as our truck was nearly empty, we approached one more building. We quickly went to the shelter in the basement of the building. We spoke with the residents who were in the shelter and they were very happy to receive the spring water as there wasn’t any running water in the shelter. After I handed out one of the last toys to a child, I told our group that it was time to go. We climbed the stairs and began to exit the building when suddenly, “boom!” A katyusha landed. But where? It sounded as if it landed above us in the building. Everyone ran downstairs to the shelter. After several minutes we realized that all members of our party were un–injured. We waited an additional five minutes. Slowly and with trepidation we went outside where we realized that the rocket hadn’t landed on the building but had landed in the middle of the street about a hundred (100) feet from where we had been exiting the building. Another few seconds of walking towards our vehicles and we could have been finished. I looked at the members of our group and didn’t know what to tell them. Despite the fear of nearly being hit, the majority of our volunteers still want to continue with the deliveries.
What Will Be?
Several people have encouraged us to continue with this badly needed service. Many are critical of us and particularly of me as I am the director of B’Ahavat Yisrael. Recently, when I was trying to raise money for the deliveries, an American Jew said to me, “What, are you crazy?” I pondered his question / statement and then I responded as follows:
I don’t agree with the government’s policy. They knew what was going on with Hezbollah and they did nothing. It was not about two abducted soldiers, as Hezbollah has made several attacks on the north since Israel cowardly ran away from Lebanon in 2000. Many soldiers have been killed in attacks and there was a fatal kidnapping. There were several rocket attacks and I remember going to Shlomi to the shiva of a boy who was killed by a katyusha three summers ago. There have been several infiltrations into Israel by Hezbollah terrorists. All the while, Hezbollah attempted to block water flow into Israel as they built up a massive arsenal of rockets and other war weaponry. The government knew and did not react. That is a shame. Many Israelis are dead and unfortunately many more will die. Now the north of Israel is a mess and hundreds of thousands of people’s lives have been financially destroyed. If unabated, this will ruin Israel’s overall economy. Hezbollah can continue rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population with relative impunity. Unfortunately the Israeli government still does not get it. They still value world opinion over the physical well being of her loyal citizens. Double Shame. Proof positive of this disastrous policy was the latest horrible attack on Haifa. Where did those rockets come from in Lebanon? They came from Qana. Remember Qana? Twenty eight (28) civilians were accidentally killed by the Israeli air force a couple of weeks ago and the Israeli government deeply regretted it. I also regretted it. I regretted the fact that they didn’t wipe out the entire village. No Qana, no rockets from Qana.
One can visit a cemetery in Tsfat. Besides some great rabbis’ graves, there is a section that is often ignored. This section of seven (7) graves is where members of the Irgun and Stern group are buried who were hung by the British in Acre prison. Their mesirut nefesh (self sacrifice) fueled the revolt that sent the British and many Arab Jew haters running from the Holy Land. They didn’t have to do what they did. They were seen by many establishment types to be crazy. Thanks to “crazy” people like them we have a State of Israel. To all of you crazies who died for the Land of Israel (there are far too many to mention here), thanks for being crazy. And if we are crazy for what we are doing, it’s the least we can do at this point for what they did for all of us.