My friend in Israel sent me this email hours after the attack in Jerusalem. I hope his letter gives you with a more personal perspective on the situation in the Middle East.
My name is Doron and I am studying Philosophy, Economics, and Political Science at Hebrew University. I’m writing to let you know what it feels like right now in Jerusalem.
It has been a tense couple of weeks here in Israel. It began on March 11, 2011 when terrorists broke into the home of a family in Itamar and murdered two parents and their three young children. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4040974,00.html
Meanwhile, Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip continue to bombard southern Israel. In the past few weeks many young Israels have utilized social media outlets to ensure that their message is heard. Here is an example of a Facebook status that was spread around in the last few days: “THIS IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL OF MY NON-ISRAELI FRIENDS! In the last 72 hours, more than 70 Kasam and Grad missiles were shot by Hamas into Israel. Israel will have to react soon – probably it’s gonna get ugly- PROBABLY you’ll hear about it for the first time few days later when the biased media in your country will present Israel again as a cruel aggressive country.” It is important to us that our side of the story is presented in the media.
Since this Facebook status was written, Israel was forced to respond to the numerous attacks on her people. An air strike over the Gaza strip killed four Palestinian terrorists. Sadly, two Palestinian youth were injured during this mission. The death of innocent Palestinians is never a cause for celebration and more importantly, is never the goal. However, as one who served in the IDF, I can tell you that the target is always the terrorists and I am sure the death of these civilians was a terrible accident. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4046317,00.html
Today, at 3pm a bomb exploded in central Jerusalem. To clarify, the location chosen for the bombing is one where most Jerusalem residents pass by at least once a week. The location of the bombing was right in front of the Jerusalem Convention Center, across from the Central Bus Station, and near a theater, concert hall and many other buildings. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4046677,00.html
The cell phone networks crashed. It took me around an hour and a half to get in touch with my family to let them know I am safe.
There are many speculations as to why the violence is escalating. Some say it’s a chain reaction in response to the Egyptian revolution. Some believe that Syria is trying to suppress the riots over there, and is encouraging the Palestinians to escalate the violence in Israel so that the media won’t focus on Syria.
All I can say is that anxiety is building in Israel. People like me – left leaning – feel that we should work harder to have a safe separation between the two populations, the Israelis and the Palestinians. It might be a cold peace, but at least there will be peace. Less optimistic people feel that it is wrong to being peace negotiations until we have a partner for peace. Either way, a reaction is mandatory to keep the citizens of Israel safe and secure. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few weeks the IDF begins a military operation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We will just have to see.
If you would like to know what it feels like for us Israelis, imagine that the countries bordering your land were attacking your people. Wouldn’t you feel that something would have to be done? But you, like anyone else, wouldn’t know exactly what.
I wish for a calmer days.