15 November 2019
By Noa Bab, Senior Shlicha (Israeli emissary), The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
On Tuesday, my family and friends woke at 6:00 AM Israel time, alarmed by the deafening sound of sirens. The center of Israel – communities in Tel Aviv, Rishon Letziyon, Rehovot, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and along the Gaza border – was under attack by rockets fired from Gaza.
Two hours earlier, the Israel Defense Forces had attacked and killed vicious Islamic Jihad leader, Baha Abu el-Ata, who was responsible for planning and executing attacks against Israeli citizens, including last weekend’s in Sderot. The rocket fire continues as of this writing, despite a ceasefire agreement.
Since this situation began, more than 450 rockets have rained down on Israeli cities, towns and civilians. On Tuesday, schools closed throughout much of the country, and life was disrupted life for millions of people. Several Israelis were injured, including an eight-year-old girl who collapsed while running for shelter in Holon.
This week, Miri, one of our shlichim in Northern Virginia, shared with me that in her hometown of Nahal Oz, her friends with young children have fewer than five seconds to get to a place of shelter. Instead of being forced to run faster than would be possible, these families are now spending nights in bomb shelters; the parents staying awake to watch over their babies.
These attacks didn’t begin this week. Rockets have been fired (especially on towns surrounding Gaza) for years now. One of the latest was about a month ago, when the Islamic Jihad targeted a festival in the town of Sderot, sending thousands running in panic everywhere.
Like many in our community here, I am trying to watch, listen to, and read everything connected to what is happening in Israel. It is not always easy, especially as I try to focus on my daily work here leading the Israeli mission around the community. I sometimes find myself tearing up at my desk, especially as I feel so distant from my friends and family in Israel.
The reality is hard to bear, especially from afar. But at the same time, I feel the strong support of a community that assures the Israeli people we are not alone. We are part of a peoplehood that is cared for by our global Jewish family. And so, we stay optimistic, continue to support one another, and stand with Israel in the face of terror.
As we enter Shabbat, let us pray for peaceful days ahead.