Another classic image by David Harris.
While the focus is on Jerusalem, my heart is in the Western Negev where a Palestinian Qassem rocket breached a factory in Kibbutz Gabim today. Yesterday, a Qassem fell on a family home in Sderot in a residential neighborhood and a woman was injured – luckily, because she could have been killed. In the past week, dozens of rockets have been launched at Western Negev communities. The large number is probably the result of the IDF taking a more aggressive stance and scoring some deadly hits on Hamas and other Qassem launching terrorists. If it weren’t for the IDF’s success, there would be the average 2-4 rockets launched daily instead.
Sderot’s mayor, Eli Moyal, resigned and then rescinded his resignation in the last couple of days because of these attacks. He has been under pressure for other reasons as well, namely potential charges of corruption, but his comments in the interview when he resigned speak the truth:
I cannot take the responsibility to manage a city that is under attack for seven years. If 20 children are killed tomorrow from a rocket, I will be asked, ‘why did you open the kindergarten?’ I have been deliberating matters pertaining to human life for years now, and I cannot continue.”
…”This is a decision I have been weighing for many years. A year ago I threatened to quit, and today I have reached a decision. For seven years no one has taken responsibility for what is happening here. It is unreasonable to start the morning with eight Qassams. I am not willing to take this responsibility. I was chosen to manage a city, and not this situation.
Ehud Barak, Defense Minister, then asked Moyal to reconsider, which he did, and declared a special situation in the area. This means that the Western Negev now falls under IDF command as if in wartime. Hamas and the other extremists on the Palestinian side have been trying to provoke Israel into action since the Disengagement. Israel has been smart to ignore them, thereby sidelining them and dividing Gaza from the West Bank as a political entity. However, it appears to me that the time has come for Israel to become far more aggressive.
It is sad to go into Shabbat thinking about these things, but you can be sure that every family in Sderot is thinking about whether they can continue to live there and whether they are jeopardizing not only their own lives but those of their children, parents and spouses. I hope the hamin (Sephardic chulent) at their table this shabbat will taste delicious, not bitter, and take their minds off their situation.
Back in Jerusalem where Israel’s leaders face difficult decisions and circumstances, I hope their Shabbat meals will give them a chance to sit and reflect on the genuine pain felt by the residents of Israel’s periphery and border areas. Here is a post based on Ari Shavit’s editorial, Sderot is Us. The editorial speaks about the situation in the macro.
Sometimes, the periphery is actually the center and that’s where it should be in the hearts and minds of Israel’s leaders.
As for the photo, we’ve seen David Harris’ work before on a shabbat post. He’s the photographer whose work I saw at the excellent Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in San Diego. Those scrolls are an amazing link between us and our ancestors 2000 years ago. They are a connection between those families in Sderot – many of them having arrived as refugees from Arab and Muslim countries – and their ancestors who link them to this ancient land of Israel.
(image is from here…and it’s for sale)