Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · truce with Hamas

Safety, or would that it were true

3 New protective structures on the kibbutzYes! We’ve got 3 new protective structures on Kibbutz Nir-Oz.

One is beside our communal laundry/clothing facility (The Communa),

another is beside the basketball court and this is good because this is where T’ai Chi instruction occurs every Tuesday evening,

and a third is beside the only Children’s House that till now has been unprotected by a huge concrete and steel roof.

We received these structures almost a week ago, and I beg your indulgence for not having reported this sooner. I’ve been busy with end of year Matriculation Exams, but now, here I am to report that they are in place. We are safer.

How safe do I feel?

Well, truthfully, after last Friday’s Red Alert and again another one last night, I have once again realized that it’s either hiding under the 88 piano keys in my living room (the safest place in the house) or continuing sitting where I am at the moment and counting 15 seconds after the Alert to wait for the Boom.  Last night, I counted to 45 before I heard it. The boom sounded like it fell in the field. You can tell these things.

I live at least 2 minutes from the nearest shelter, so I’m not feeling much improvement. Also notably, last night’s Alert came after we heard there’s about to be a truce with Hamas.

Safety is not exactly overflowing.

Some of the younger kibbutzniks are in favour of leaving. Most of us are not in such a hurry to turn our backs on our home. The situation has not really changed for the past 7 years, in fact.

Except for one small detail. A man has been killed by mortar fire. The qassam fire that impotently fell on open fields for so long has been displaced by one hit that struck down a human life here at home.

Yet, life goes on. I continue to walk in the fields. I continue to hear helicopters, like right now, for instance. I drink coffee. I bake bread. The swimming pool is filled with those cooling down from the heat wave.

I, like you, perhaps, check the newspapers to see what has transpired during the night and what is going on in other kibbutzim, cities and settlements. I seldom see the facts spelled out till much later. But safety? I’ll be safe on Tuesday if a Red Alert is called while we’re doing Chi Cong. I’ll be safe if I happen to be by the Laundry or the Brosh Children’s House. Meanwhile, it’s going to be to flatten out if I’m on the road outside, or perhaps look into my daughter’s eyes as we crouch beneath the piano keys.

(I can hear my mother say: “So this is why I paid for 6 years of piano lessons?”)

And what’s going on in Nirlat paint factory (the target of two incidents of mortar fire, one fatal)? Walking by the factory last evening, we heard the orders: “All into the protected shelters“.  After a few minutes, new orders resounded: “All back to work“. And a few minutes after that, ‘All into the protected shelters” and so it goes as the workers do their shifts.

Imagine for yourself how this must be.

Safety? At least they have protective shelters and a voice to give them an alert. This wasn’t the case the day that mortar struck down Amnon Rosenberg.

But here I am to say that we have 3 new Shelters and the promise that each house will receive a protected room. I’ll be back to report how that’s going.  The truce with Hamas has gone into effect as of 6 a.m. this morning, June 19th, 2008.

Let’s give truce a chance.

Here’s hoping you all have a peaceful weekend. And don’t forget to write. We all have our anxieties and our release mechanisms. May writing ease the pressure.


Living in Otef Azza

Update: Brief acknowledgement of June 5/08 – Mortar attack on Nir-Lat

Saturday Evening, June 7th, 2008
Further to prior comments on Mortar Attack, June 5/08.
The death of Amnon Rosenberg, who was working in a paint warehouse outside of the main  Nirlat factory, has been covered in the press. He was most certainly killed on the spot, instantaneous, as much as can be determined.
His funeral on Friday was attended by hundreds. He was a well-loved member of Kibbutz Nirim and his absence will be sorely missed by his family and his community.
What hasn’t been spoken about is the identity of the four wounded.
These four wounded by the shrapnel were Bedouin workers. The driver of a truck is suffering from an extremely serious leg wound, but I haven’t any further details at the moment.
The foreman of the Bedouin crew was driving into the kibbutz in order to bring his workers home when the mortars fell.
He later came into the Kibbutz Dining Room in shock. The cooks did what they could to support him, attending to him, attentive to his words. When I arrived back from school, an hour or two later, and walked through the small smoking room annexed to the Dining Room, I saw him and two other Bedouin workers still shaken. 
The identities of these wounded haven’t been reported, nor had I read that they were Bedouin, so after having found this out today, I thought I’d post it here. – judih.
June 5/08
A neighbour of mine on the kibbutz, who works in the quality control lab of Nir-Lat, told me that Amnon Rosenberg had just called one of her co-workers to agree on a lunch hour, and that was that. She couldn’t believe she’d never see him again. He was always one of the first to greet her each day.
He is a beloved member of his kibbutz NIrim and also well-known to students at Ma’ale Habsor Regional School where he taught the Tractor Course.
There had been no ‘Red Alert’ warning. The ‘Tzeva Adom’ system generally  gives a 15 second warning before the landing of qassam rockets but doesn’t work with other forms of projectiles, though this is changing as we speak.
From ‘Ha’’ June 5/08:
Olmert hints major Gaza operation is imminent
Ehud Barak came to examine the factory soon after the attack. He offered promise that the warning system would be enhanced and that further protection would be forthcoming.
Today, Friday, June 6th, there is not much to add. The kibbutz was offering assistance to those feeling post-traumatic stress to any degree. Mostly, people are living their lives, back to normal.
This is not a new situation. Here and in this area, we’ve had qassams, mostly hitting open fields, and sniper shots at our field workers. All the settlements in Otef Azza are facing the same daily situations.
The only solution as I see it is to bring this area to a Peace Agreement. Death gets us nowhere.
–  Judih, June 6/08
Despite IDF operations in Gaza which killed a Hamas gunman early Friday and the looming possibility of a large scale IDF raid on the Strip, Palestinian terrorists persisted with their rocket and mortar shell attacks on southern Israel.
On Friday afternoon, a Kassam rocket landed near Sderot’s Sapir College, damaging six cars. A second rocket landed in the town, one hit an open area and a fourth apparently landed in the Eshkol region, although it was yet to be found. Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

Earlier, nine mortar shells slammed into the western Negev, one damaging a building near a kibbutz in the Sderot area. No one was wounded in the attacks.

The barrages came moments after Amnon Rozenberg, who was killed Thursday by a Gaza shell that hit the Nirlat paint factory at Kibbutz Nir Oz, was laid to rest at the kibbutz cemetery.


May we have a quiet weekend and a Happy Shavuot.