By Leah Garber
Our Lives Have Changed Beyond Recognition
Israel as of 6:30 a.m. this morning is an entirely different country than it was last night. Our lives have changed beyond recognition, and we are at the beginning of an event whose horror only becomes clearer as the hours pass.
Exactly 50 years have elapsed since the shock of the Yom Kippur War, which is burned into Israeli memory like a scar that refuses to heal, a demon that won’t let go. Today, once again, in the midst of a holiday, our entire country awoke to the reality that peace had suddenly been violated by a brutal, planned attack, intended for one thing: to harm and kill innocent Israelis—including women, children, and the elderly—who were forcefully taken from their beds and dragged into Gaza.
As I write these words from the safety of our home-based, sheltered room, the siren once again goes off, and the horrible sounds of explosions violate the pretend peacefulness of the Israeli evening. My eyes tear at the magnitude of the horror that is being perpetrated around us. We know so little, yet what we do know is far more shocking and devastating than what we ever imagined possible. Already, more than 250 Israelis have lost their lives, more than 1,500 have been wounded, and the numbers keep rising—and this is before we even mention the catastrophe of those who were kidnapped, innocent civilians dragged from their homes to an unknown fate within Gaza.
At this difficult time, when the scope of the disaster is still unknown, it is so hard to write, to express in words the pain, the shock, the fear, and the worry for our kids who are now making their way down south and up north to join the war. It affects my many family members, sons of friends, and all Israelis who are fighting, shoulder to shoulder, against a cruel, monstrous enemy who drags children into the darkness of cellars. This is what they do; this is who they are; and they are who we are fighting.
What I can express is the unequivocal belief in the righteousness of our lives here in Israel, our homeland. We are here by virtue; this is our home, the only one we have; and we seek peace. The horrors that woke us early today and forced us into the shelters were not preceded by any Israeli provocation. On the contrary. Israel is going through a difficult period of continuous acts of terrorism in our cities, and the army is struggling to put out the flames, not arouse them. How terrible that our enemy seeks to ignite the flames, set the area ablaze, and wreak destruction.
The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs released this video tonight. Please stand with us for peace for the Israel we love, for the immediate and safe release of kidnapped Israelis in Gaza, and for the children. May they return to their warm beds and their sweet dreams so viciously stolen from them today.
Leah Garber is a senior vice president of JCC Association of North America and director of its Center for Israel Engagement in Jerusalem.