10 Oct
Israel at War 2023

I wrote this after visiting a kibbutz near the Gaza border a few years ago: We stopped to talk to a couple of soldiers. “We are meant to hold the line until the reserves and the regular army get here; things change from week to week. Some are now watching over the Kibbutzim because there might be tunnels underneath the buffer zone. Sometimes the locals feed us, we are never without supplies and towns are close by when we finish!” They were young, and strolled about kicking dirt; hindered by their kit and weapons. This is an area where Hamas terrorists came out of tunnels into the back gardens of the civilian population and a new form of fear had to be absorbed. The security forces have put so much effort into covering all possible entrances. Most of the random missiles sent over from Gaza are being intercepted by the iron dome, and the kindergartens by the fence have been lagged in breeze block. The residents have perfected getting into the shelters in less than a minute, once the siren sounds, and everyone feels as secure as they can be. Sometimes, when a tunnel is discovered you learn that you have been blind to the degree of activity going on underground, and it has to be destroyed. 2023:  Having been there, when soldiers hung about on village greens, watched over children in parks and patrolled the border every half hour, I’m still shocked at how Hamas came through that fence and paraglided over the buffer zone in their hundreds.  At first I thought some soldiers must be home for the holidays, even though after the Yom Kippur War, 50 years ago this month, when the Egyptians overwhelmed those on their border, Israel said, ‘Never again!’ I have to conclude that compliments of soldiers were engaged in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as they have been since the State became embroiled in its own domestic policies. They have been destroying Bedouin villages, evicting Palestinians, trying to control fanatical Settlers and overseeing protests against judicial reform.   I have stepped back and paused, I have spoken to people in Israel, and thought long and hard. Israel may be together now in these desperate days, but there are elements of office who ought to be disappointed with themselves.

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