Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Standing Down

One of the hardest parts of war, believe it or not, is letting it end. Of course, we really aren't certain this is the end. A 72-hour ceasefire has been declared. We've made it half way - 36 hours - in relative peace. No rockets have been fired at Israel; we've pulled our soldiers out of Gaza and sent many of the soldiers home.

My friends in the south tell me that the children were outside playing today, the malls and parking lots were full. They are anxious, in the last three weeks of the summer, to try to grab something of the vacation that has mostly passed them by until now. Jerusalem seemed just a bit brighter, happier today, even more crowded than usual.

The army has eased up all restrictions - weddings with hundreds of people can once again take place in areas close to Gaza. People don't have to stay close to bomb shelters. My friends slept, for the first time in nearly a month, in their beds and not in the bomb shelters. It was too much to keep moving the young children; easier to put them down for the night in the bomb shelter. But last night, they trusted...and slept.

But every sound still sounds like a siren; I kept the Red Alert applications open just in case. I rode the train today looking all around - and yes, especially at the Arabs on the train. An Arab woman got on with a large bag and I promised myself if she got off the train without it, I'd scream out for security. She got off with the bag and I still scanned the train to make sure nothing was left behind.

On Monday, a security guard was stabbed near the entrance to my city. A 64-year-old man that I know - mostly by sight, but still. I've given him rides to and from the mall; I wave to him as I enter the city. Today, he wasn't there - it will be weeks before he is back to work, if at all. And as if that wasn't enough, yesterday an Arab was caught near the building where I work, waving a knife in a threatening manner.

And those events followed a Sunday in which there were two terror attacks - in one, a 29-year-old father of five was murdered; and in the second, a young soldier I had seen moments before was shot in the stomach.

Today, as I drove to work, the police were on the roads, watching for those who would attack the road with stones. There were two such incidents that I heard about - in both cases, Palestinians managed to cause two cars driven by Arabs.

And in the midst of all this "regular" violence, there was the absence of rockets, no reports of infiltrators coming through tunnels. It is easier for the head to stand down, than the heart.

The head commands you to focus on work for the first time in weeks and you do. I delivered the help file I had to send in, dealt with a new project that has just been confirmed and I think found the perfect writer. I handed in the bills, did the payroll for last month and took part in a teleconference with people from all over the world. I checked up on the order for two new phones for the company (and assured the vendor that they would have no problem delivering to Israel).

And all the while, my heart kept wondering when the silence would end, when the sirens would start again. It may take me a few more days to really believe we have once again backed off the brink. And somewhere in there is the horrible thought that my 14-year-old daughter has now lived through three wars (and a major operation). Three wars...

The army walks us through all we need to know to ramp up quickly to a war situation. We were told, daily, what to do during a rocket attack - how long we had from the launch of the rocket to impact. Get to shelter. If you can't, find a wall, calculate where Gaza is and get on the other side. Lay flat on the ground with your hands protecting your head. Stay in a safe area for 10 minutes after the siren stops. They told us when we needed to avoid an area; warned us if there were terrorists suspected somewhere.

They told us how to live and be safe in war...but there is no comparable guide back into normal. How long will it take to stop listening for the sirens, to close the applications?

Is it really the time to stand down?

1 comment:

Gail Griner Golden at Gail-Friends said...

You paint a vivid picture. Praying with you and for you.


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