Update from JCC Israel Center

Operation Protective Edge — Day 29
And hopefully the last day of war and the first of a wonderful, normal summer!

Coming home!!!

Coming home!!!

Both Israel and Hamas have agreed to the Egyptian initiative, which includes a 72-hour ceasefire. After that period, further discussions will take place in Cairo in an attempt to reach a permanent agreement. As a result, the last of our wonderful Israeli soldiers left Gaza this morning.

While our troops were heading out of Gaza, Hamas took advantage of the last few minutes of war and fired 17 rockets at southern and central Israel, as well as at the Jerusalem area.

Later today, another terror attack occurred in the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, just outside of Jerusalem, wherea Palestinian stabbed a security guard in the chest, wounding him. Still, I am hopeful that this is just a swan song to this violent summer, another sporadic event, not a new trend.

During this conflict, Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets from Gaza towards Israeli towns. They have  killed three civilians, injured many more and caused some serious property damage. Without Iron Dome, the pride of Israel throughout, there would have been widespread devastation. Iron Dome successfully eliminated 90 percent of the rockets, preventing deadly hits.

The Israeli army attacked 4,800 terror targets during the operation, killing 900 terrorists and destroying the 32 known and deadly terror tunnels that burrowed beneath the border with Gaza and into Israel. During the operation, 82,000 reservists left their day-to-day lives, families and routines to protect our country, joining active soldiers in duty.

Today is Tisha b’Av, or the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. On this day, the Jewish world mourns the loss of the first and second Temples, both symbols of lost Jewish sovereignty. That loss was only redeemed in 1948 when David Ben Gurion declared the rebirth of our Jewish state.

Last night we read Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, which ends on a note of hope: “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old”. (Lam. 5:21)

The first Temple was destroyed on this day in 586 B.C.E. The second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. According to our sages, the roots of the destruction lay in sinat chinam, baseless hatred. The people of Israel were divided into too many sects, each believing they’re way was the right one. It was these fissures that destroyed the second Temple, according to tradition. When we were separate, we were weak. The Romans took advantage of our weakness and defeated us.

Since 1948, when the people of Israel and the Jewish world of the diaspora built the Jewish homeland together, through today we have put aside disputes and stood together as one. This has been particularly true these past 29 days as we have defended our home, each contributing as much as possible.

Today, on the ninth day of Av we stand together, we are united, and therefore invincible.

It is with great hope that I write today’s update. I have hope for a real, long-lasting cease-fire that will put to an end to the violence we have experienced since June 13when Eyal, Naftali and Gilad were kidnapped and murdered.

It is with great pain that I write this update, as well. I have pain for the death of those three boys, and the deaths of 64 Israeli soldiers and  four Israeli civilians —  including the father of five that was murdered in Jerusalem yesterday — and the injuries of many more.

It is with great frustration that I have written to you these past 29 days — frustration with the West, which seems blind to what is going on; frustration with a cruel cynical enemy that once again dragged us into war; and frustration knowing this round of violence is not likely to be the last in Israel’s 66 years of struggling for existence.

But it was also great pride and gratitude that I wrote to you over these same 29 days: Pride for the solidarity each and every one of you expressed; pride for our Israeli unity and standing together; pride for our resilience and pride for what we stand for.

I’m hopeful that today’s update is the last one reporting from my scarred, hurt Israel, and that my next, routine “View from Jerusalem” will be instead positive and optimistic. Instead of rocket counts, I hope to be sharing uplifting news and insights from our Jewish home land.

I am grateful for the solidarity, support and love you all have demonstrated through these very difficult days!

Leah Garber
Vice President
JCC Israel Center