Every week I read the Israeli newspaper in Hebrew and I have very quickly learned the words for rocket, casualty, killed, and terrorist. It is unfortunate that I've had to learn such phrases, but they are part of Israeli culture. Every week more rockets fall from the sky onto unsuspecting Israeli communities that just happen to border the Gaza Strip. Israel's responses are always swift. It is a cycle of violent actions which beget more violent actions. My heart weeps for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. I weep because neither side has know peace, ever in their lives.
Just a few days after President George W. Bush left Israel a violent tragedy has occurred. An Ecuadorian volunteer was gunned down by an Palestinian sniper while he was working in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha (עין השלושה). He was only 20 years old and only was looking to get away from home for awhile. Its terribly sad, especially for the Ecuadorian volunteers on my kibbutz. I can't imagine a life where going to work in your farm fields requires a bullet proof vest.
As if this scene weren't bad enough the Israeli's responded quickly to the attack. The IDF killed 15 Palestinians in a raid near Gaza City. Attack and and defense, attack and counter attack. This is the life here in Israel. While in the past, the United States of America has taken interest in fixing the situation, the current administration seems to be interested in other endeavors in the Middle East. I have been reading the Dennis Ross book called "The Missing Peace." It describes the great lengths which the George HW Bush (Bush I) and Clinton went to to attempt to broker peace deals in the region. By comparison George W Bush (Bush II) has barely lifted a finger. He has only visited Israel twice while in office. He has made outrageous claims that he hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian deal by the end of his term. This is clearly not even close to possible while rockets fly from Gaza on a daily basis and Israeli planes bomb Gaza right back.
Living on a Kibbutz so far away from either Gaza or the West Bank puts me in a unique position to view the conflict. Be'er Sheva and Revivm are possibly some of the safest places in Israel. The view isn't always pretty from the highest and safest perch. Neighboring regional councils are in quite real danger and there seems to be no end in sight. I pray for peace, but I don't know if that has ever been enough. I'm at a complete loss...its just hard to fathom such hatred.
Please pray for peace and pray for comfort for an Ecuadorian family who didn't know when the kissed their son goodbye, a few months ago, it would be the last time they saw him.