Monday, August 7, 2006

Sharif family wartime Update (no.5)

7 August, 2006

Life goes on at home in Gesher Haziv.

The sirens give us lots of prime time in our relatively-safe small bedroom with reclining bed, T.V. and telephone. We tend to think that if a rocket lands right by our house (perhaps also inside) we’ll be relatively-safe from shrapnel, shock wave and other little killing objects flying in our direction – if we shuffled into the bedroom in time. We fairly well realize that a direct hit on our bedroom would have us joining ancestors, but that’s a statistical gamble we opted for. The alternative would be to spend a lot of time in an underground shelter, away from the amenities and sweet smells of home. No thanks. Our prerogative.

Another alternative would be to leave the area for the safety of more southern points. Our children did so with our grandchildren. We’re happy about that. Friends and family coax and tempt. We’re grateful, but not now. No particular logic. Just so. Most of the community has migrated southward. That’s fine. I’m not sure, but I think that to turn us into pilgrims there would have to be an actual enemy invasion by land forces, or at least a specific order from our own army to vacate the area. As I ask myself why such an illogical choice to stay, I find myself in an emotional empathy with the many Lebanese who had to leave northward without having any statistical choice. Anyways, we have the choice and we’re here.

As of a couple of weeks ago I actually get up and go to work every morning. In accounting – bookkeeping – records: there’s always what to do, and what isn’t done today won’t go away tomorrow. There is a safe area one floor below. I moved down some computers. I stay upstairs with my own work. At the whirl of a siren (many times during the day) I spend a few minutes behind an inner wall or go visiting downstairs. Iris has been gathering a group of the elderly every day in the main shelter for some arduous physical exercises, after which she helps distribute the daily mail to our more than 400 mailboxes. Mail doesn’t arrive here during the war. We go to the back door of the main post-office in Nahariya, collect an oversized mailbag and bring it to our mailroom. During a lull in the action, those here come to collect their mail.

Though possibly only a third of the community is still here, we are fairly well organized. Rifi sees to underground shelter events for the few children that are still here, and trips outside the war area. Efi is in direct touch with the army about activities in our area. Volunteers constantly man the phone in our main shelter – the “war room”. We have a fire brigade (has been active), we have an “armed civilian unit” in case of terrorist infiltration (no call so far). Communication is constant between all of these and the entire community (both here and those away) via SMS messages sent to everyone’s cell-phones through the internet. There is an Hanhala. There are meetings Shai and Tami keep the kibbutz office open and available for continuing some affairs “as usual” and being available to the outside world. The infirmary, the library and our small local supermarket daily announce times open for service. This can change at a moments notice as the rockets re-schedule our lives.

It seems that more than 3000 rockets have so far arrived from Lebanon. Less than 20 have fallen around our kibbutz; only four in residential areas; minor damage to a number of homes. Many many more rockets fell all around us – Nahariya and Saar bordering on our south, Cabri and our regional hospital bordering on the east, Moshav Lehman bordering on the north, and who knows how many in the sea to the west. People were killed, many were injured, many homes damaged including the hospital which had moved its work underground. So far Gesher Haziv has enjoyed some kind of relatively positive karma.

Even in the chaos of war there are things that have a regular schedule. After dark we have a lull in the sirens, the rockets, the rush into safe-rooms. I thought it was because in the dark it’s easier for the army to see from where the Hezbollah rockets were launched. Somewhere now I’ve heard that after sundown the land cools down and it’s easier for the air force to pin-point the moving “hot-spots” of terrorists preparing their launching activity. All this does not mean that there is blossoming war-time nightlife. Not in our quiet berg. But though we still hear our own guns working overtime and the air force still rumbles the skies, nighttime is relaxation time. And we can find sleep.

Good night. Be well.

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