Last week Tuesday December 5th and Thursday December 7th I had the rare occasion of meeting with survivors of the Hamas attacks.
Partnership of Faith
The first conversation was sponsored by Partnership of Faith (POF). POF was founded around 1989 during Mayor Dinkins administration. It is a prestigious Interfaith organization. We have come together to address important issues, primarily, though not exclusively in New York. The meeting was held via Zoom and lasted for forty-five minutes. There were two persons who gave an account of their escape when the invasion occurred. Both were female; one maybe in her seventies, another late-twenties. The younger woman indicated that she had been living in the Kibbutz (villages that were setup to expand the borders of Israel and they were established on the land that the Palestinians had claimed ownership for generations. So, there were always tension in some form.)
The elderly woman said that she had been living in the area for fifty-one years. She was
contented to leave at peace with her Palestinian neighbors. She talked of her working together with Palestinians in cordial relationship. But now since the attack she has no hope of peaceful relations. She expressed her fearing that Hamas would be destroyed. She described in great detail how she was trapped in her home. She described how houses in the Kibbutz villages are structured or built with stone and steel, with rooms inside that could withstand bombings and rockets, etc. When the attack occurred, they went into these special rooms and were able to survive, although they could hear missiles and even voices on the outside.
The young woman described her ordeal as she had been attending the annual festival when the attack occurred. It was helter-skelter, people were running in every direction. Some didn’t make it to their vehicles. As she drove along the road, she saw that it was blocked by Hamas soldiers. She left the vehicle and ran into the bushes. She saw many who were at the festival killed and/or wounded. It seemed that gun, canon, or rocket fire was coming from every direction. As she hid and moved quietly through the bushes, she was calling for police and military support. The villages are heavily fortified with police and soldiers. They have their own fortification areas.
There is a communication system between the village dwellers, Israeli soldiers and the police. She was making calls but was not getting any response. She was down to her last call when she made contact with the Israeli soldiers. She was told that they were coming her way and to be alert for their presence. She did succeed in the rendezvous with the soldiers and thus was saved.
There were occasional calls as the survivors related their stories, obviously we’re living in a terrible ordeal to which they had recently experienced.
The expression was unanimous among the clergy group. Profoundly moved by the survivor's experience, even though it was Zoom. There may have been various opinions about the war but there was unanimity on the feeling for these survivors.
To be continued..