The one thing I saw today is the toll terror takes.
After getting off the plane, I met Stuart Steinberg and we went to visit Ashkelon. Stewie just wanted to shop in Ashkelon to give the locals business – he had seen on TV shopkeepers talking about their businesses suffering from the effects of the rocket attacks, and wanted to help support them. Sadly, when we got there, after a series of rocket attacks on the city, most of the stores had already closed, and the city was eerily quiet.
The rockets are frightening. While driving to Ashkelon, a siren went off and we had to scramble to stop the car and run for cover; a few seconds later the loud booms of iron dome taking down missiles could be heard. It comes as no surprise to me that all of the noise, and the atmosphere of worry effects everyone, including small children and even cows.
Yes, even cows are spooked by rocket attacks. We learned this when we went further south to Kibbutz Saad. We went to visit a newlywed couple, Naomi (Niederhoffer) and Gedalya Frankel. Naomi had grown up in our shul and made Aliyah a few years ago, and just got married last month. Their Kibbutz, sits about two miles from Gaza; in fact a series of TV satellite trucks were parked outside the kibbutz, with reporters sending footage to Sky, Al Jazeera and Chinese TV (one of the Israeli crew for Chinese TV is a distant cousin of a member of our shul…but that’s another story!). In the Kibbutz we learned that most families had decided to vacation up north, to avoid the bombing; and that after a few rockets had fallen nearby, the cows had stopped giving the same amount of milk. We met a group of soldiers in the ambulance corps, who were staying in an empty room on the Kibbutz; sadly, these same soldiers would be called a few minutes later to the scene of the first Israeli death from these rocket attacks.
I will hopefully share pictures tomorrow, from most of these places. But I want to add one short thought. While lying face down on the ground during one of the sirens we heard today, I couldn’t help but think how proud I am of this country, which has achieved so much despite all the hatred that surrounds it.