We used to live in a lovely older neighborhood in Southern California. People worked hard for their homes. Pride of ownership was normal and upkeep and renovations were standard. It was a family-friendly neighborhood, the kind of place where most residents knew and looked out for one another.
A few years ago, there was an unwarranted invasion. The first sign was when all of Justin’s grandma’s tulips and daffodils went missing. There one spring day: gone the next. They moved up to Julie’s house. Left tunnels all over the front yard. The boys had the best time blasting a garden hose full bore into the cavernous holes, only causing them to cave in, creating swampy mess of the lawn. The pests had moved on.
MaryJo was next on the attack list. She went out to garden one fine morning, got her foot caught in the recently dug tunnel and badly wrenched her ankle. The neighborhood was abuzz with stories and consternation. Moles. Definitely moles. No gophers. Definitely gophers. No one had actually seen them, but the devastation stories grew each day.
Front yards. Backyards. Bulbs. Flowers. Gardens full of vegetables. Then they crossed over to our side of the street hell-bent on destruction. Our lovely street became a patchwork of torn up turf. More people were caught unawares and more ankles suffered. Some of our neighbors set traps. Some put out poison. Others fences. A few called exterminators. Nothing seemed to help. My garden (even though our back yard was bounded by walls) was utterly decimated in one night. All gone from celery to peppers. From cucumbers and tomatoes to zucchini. Top to bottom. Gone!!!
Today we’re living in a lovely little neighborhood in Northern Israel. In these Northern communities- moshavim, yishuvim and tiny villages- many could pass for Southern California communities with white stucco walls and red ceramic tile roofs. The neighbors all know one another, and their homes speak pride of ownership. The residents work hard for what they have. They are family friendly. Many of these hamlets are surrounded by olive, cherry, and apple orchards; agricultural lands with neatly growing vegetable rows; nestled in the Upper Galilee Mountains, butting up against the Lebanese Border.
This is not a particularly friendly border. No. On the contrary. It’s the territory of Iran-backed Hizbolla militants. Hizbolla is not a group you’d want to move into your neighborhood. They have terrorized the local Southern Lebanese Christian and Muslim residents and forced them to use their schools and homes to store missiles. (Israel now faces over 150,000 missiles pointed at us from Lebanon). These uninvited Hizbolla terrorists had begun tunneling underground in numerous locations….terror tunnels reinforced with concrete….some wide enough to drive jeeps through… for one purpose only. The tunnels went deep under the earth crossing from Lebanon, underneath the border walls and coming up into Israel… for one purpose only. To kill Jews. Erase Israelis. To kidnap. To start a war.
The IDF at the beginning of last month announced Operation Northern Shield, a full scale operation of finding each and every tunnel, methodically, one by one. As they are discovered, they are blown up from the inside and flooded with concrete.
Since the above meme two weeks ago, three more attack tunnels have been located and are being dealt with. Last week, my husband had to drive up to Metulla, the northernmost town right on the border. He had to pick up some hockey sticks from the Olympic Ice Rink built there by the Canadians (that’s for another story but we do have ice hockey as well as figure skating and curling… go figure. This place never ceases to amaze me!).
I was reticent to have John go up there. A few days prior we received (as US citizens) an official raised-seal note from the US Department of State advising all US citizens of the danger of traveling north of Highway 89 towards the Lebanese border. John assured me he and his friend would be fine. So…. I said at least get some good pictures for the blog!
The first was taken in Metulla (the community in the forefront). In the mid ground you can see fields of vegetables. Beyond that the border wall and the Lebanese town in the background.
The above picture needs some explanation. It’s as close as John could get. Just beyond the newly planted olive orchard is wire fencing put up by the IDF to keep people out of the area being worked on.To the right is the 12 foot border wall separating Israel from Lebanon.There is a cleared out area adjacent with a black rectangular box against the wall. That is a piece of equipment used to find and dig out the tunnel. This area has been cordoned off by the white fencing. To the left, more fencing where the tunnel came out. It has been filled with cement and a pile of boulders placed on top of the egress.
I don’t know how much coverage this has gotten outside of Israel. So far, six such tunnels have been destroyed (including this one). The stakes here are a bit higher than mere tulip bulbs and veggies. We are dealing with innocent families and the potential killing of innocent human beings whose only “crime” is the desire to live quiet, humble lives in their homeland. Not just Jewish Israelis, but Druze, Christian Arameans and other Muslims. It does not matter to Hizbolla, to Iran and the tunneling terrorists.
You can read more about it by doing an internet search. I believe there are several videos on YouTube showing the discovery and decommissioning of the terror tunnels. In the meantime, we are safe and remain grateful to the IDF for the stellar job they do day and night to insure the safety of Israel.