For many of you in khool ( Hebrew slang for khootz l’aretz, or outside of the country) who are not keeping up with or don’t get accurate news reports, let me share our weekend with you.
To catch you up on the past few weeks, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been quite busy. Iran has been supplying our immediate neighbors to the North, Syria and Lebanon, with rather sophisticated guided long range missiles. They have been building munitions factories in both countries – outside of Damascus and Beirut. And Iran has been sending Al Quds and Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals to both countries to train Hizbullah terror cell leaders how to best wipe Israel off the map. In the past two weeks, the Israeli Air Force has bombed several of the ammunition production and storage facilities in Syria outside of Damascus. Israeli intelligence has exposed photos and information on key Iranian and Hizbollah leaders setting up terror cells, delivering money and arms and training groups of terrorists.
Last week the final Israeli insult came. Israeli intelligence drones released footage of a group of Iranian backed Hizbollah operatives in Lebanon transporting explosives-laden attack drones for a deadly incursion into Israel. The terrorists were spotted, filmed and eliminated before they could launch their drones. The next day, Israel bombed a Hizbollah headquarters in Beirut. Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hizbollah in Lebanon released a video from his underground hiding place vowing revenge. Imminent action to be taken. Over 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel. Watch out…..
Our son came home on regular IDF leave last Wednesday. He has only 18 days of IDF service left, and we were thanking G-d they had been peaceful years and we could plan his cutting up his khoger party. By Friday we were hearing that all reserve duty soldiers were being called to the borders. Soldiers not already on Shabbat leave were confined to their bases. Max would be on-call operational. Nasrallah’s threats were to be taken seriously.
By Saturday night, the messages on Max’s phone were coming in fast and furious. Some he could share. Others not. Iron dome batteries employed. Public bomb shelters being opened in border communities. Navy on emergency watch. Bases on lockdown and high alert. Heavy artillery movements… we could hear the low rumble of jets overhead and helicopters patrolling the area.
I spent Saturday night taking down all my paintings, photos and decorative plates from the walls. Moving dishes and breakables off shelves for safe storage…. and praying… a lot. I wasn’t scared: I was merely determined to be prepared. For whatever came hurtling from the sky our way. I inventoried our mamad (bomb shelter – it’s really cool!!!). Water – check. Food -check. Medical supplies – check. Sanitary supplies and portable potty -check. Cook stove and camping lights -check. Clothes -check. Bug out backpacks with copies of papers and two days worth of supplies for each person- check. The menfolk were laughing, thinking I was nuts, but it kept me busy. And I could at least heroically save those closest to me. Mental notes made of extra water and toilet paper to get the next morning. I tried to fall asleep to the sounds of the IDF jets overhead.
Sunday morning was the first day of school here in Israel. The neighborhood kindergarten is across the street from our house, and by 7:30 proud young parents were escorting their little children to Gan. The first-timers were easy to spot as lovely floral wreaths encircled their angelic heads – both girls and boys. Moms pushing younger siblings in strollers and dads with babies in sacs on their chest… all without a care in the world.
People were going about their business as usual for an already hot, late-summer morning. I got to the grocery store expecting to find long lines and bare shelves. Neither. Didn’t these people know what was going on 16 miles to the north???? Were they all delusional????
The sound of jets and drones and copters thundered and whirred all morning. Max’s phone buzzed continually. I pried for news and prayed even more. For protection. For cool heads to prevail. For peace. I connected with my support group of moms of soldiers. We were all trying to calm and console one another and we’re praying for our kids on front lines. Several were moms of Lone Soldiers who had left comfortable lives in the States, in England, South Africa and South America were desperate for any news.
We watched live-feed of the Stromboli volcanic eruption off Sicily. And we worried about my 92 year old father-in-law who lives on the coast of Florida as Hurricane Dorian intensified. It seemed the whole world was exploding. I stayed glued to the internet.
By late afternoon Sunday, I began to hear the muffled booms of artillery in the distance. It had begun. Would we be forced, imminently, into the mamad when the warning siren sounded? School was out, and children were playing in the street. Neighbors were walking their dogs. This was just surreal.
The sun set, painting the sky a brilliant red and Jupiter shone brightly in the dusky sky. Portents of Armageddon (by the way, we live just 20 miles north of Megiddo)? The new moon hung on the Western horizon – the moon of the Hebrew month of Elul. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” “The King is in the field.” Popular epithets said here throughout this month. During the month of Elul, the month preceding the High Holy Days, G-d is incredibly close and the heavens are open. Please, G-d. Please.
And the night sky grew eerily quiet. No jets. No booms. No sirens. No drones. Just the occasional barking of a dog and the gentle symphony of crickets. A peaceful Galilee evening.
The news started surfacing. Hizbullah anti-tank rockets had been fired at an IDF base adjacent the Lebanese border. A Jeep and an ambulance had been hit. There were casualties. Two dead. Two critically injured. The IDF had responded with an artillery barrage. Two more Lebanese rockets were fired, hitting targets.
Netanyahu made a nationally televised speech stating there was an exchange of fire. There were no injuries. “Not a scratch.” In the meantime, we were beginning to get footage from Lebanon. Flag waving. Honking horns. Candy passed out. Fireworks in celebration of the 2 high-ranking IDF soldiers killed and scores wounded. What was going on????
By 9pm, the news was forthcoming. Israeli intelligence knew there was going to be an attack. They saw the buildup and had the wherewithal to surmise the place from/of the attack. They set up several vehicles… jeeps, humvees, an ambulance along key roads and on the military bases. Inside we’re mannequins in full IDF uniforms, some even looking through binoculars.
The Hizbullah artillery fire indeed struck their targets. Bandages and bloodied actors were filmed being airlifted on stretchers onto helicopters and brought to ambulances in true “Pallywood” style (The Palestinians are notorious for fake filming bloodied casualties who then get up off their stretchers and walk away). The images flooded the Muslim countries and they began to celebrate their victory. An eye for an eye. They thought they had gotten their revenge. The whole “war” lasted two hours.
As of today, we are still on high alert, but I drove Max up to his base this afternoon. Life never really stopped being normal for most Israelis. Our Israeli neighbor friends laughed at this new olah (immigrant) when John told them of my preparations. They were more than used to life on the brink and took everything in stride. The IDF and G-d will protect us and when the real time comes we’ll know in advance what to do and where to go. Explicit instructions will be given to everyone.
We’re still watching Hurricane Dorian and praying the East Coast of the United States will also miss the bullet. And I’m standing firm in my preparations. It was a practice drill for me in real time. Coming from Southern California where earthquakes, fast-moving brush fires, and mud slides are imminent, this is one olah who will be ready for whatever threat comes our way. In the meantime, the khoger cutting party is back on!!! Woohoo!!!!!!
Do you have your disaster plan in place???