Hours before the Gaza truce was agreed, Your Middle East visited TAU’s situation room, an improvised media office at Tel Aviv University (TAU) where pro-Israel advocates gather information about the crisis and share it with international media through social networks.
According to Jeremy Dery, the campaign manager of the Likud candidate Orly Benny Davis and a volunteer at the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, “Hasbarah (explanation) is crucial because it allows the world to see another part of Israel that the media does not portray or does not have time to portray”.
Roy BenEzra, a 25 year-old resident of Holon who studies Business Management and Psychology at Tel Aviv University, started volunteering at TAU’s situation room when the ongoing escalation of cross-border violence intensified.
“I feel it’s my duty, for my country, to contribute in any way I can,” he said. “The Palestinians and their supporters are spreading lies all over the network and the media. It is the job of the volunteers to show the truth to the world and Israel’s side of the story”.
Likewise, Gidi Adlersberg, a 27-year-old Business Management and Philosophy student, volunteers at TAU’s situation room.
“I joined the situation room because I could not stand witnessing Israel's insane situation. Ever since last week's attacks on Israel, I am unable to focus on anything apart from this horrible assault. I can't study, I can't work, my mind won't let me do anything which is not related to helping my country to break free from this horrific situation”, he said.
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“It is horrible going into a normal university lecture, hearing the siren, and then running to the bomb shelter. After today's attack on Tel Aviv, us students can't even ride a bus to get home because we might get killed on our way home,” he added, referring to the bomb explosion at a public bus in central Tel Aviv in which more than 20 Israeli civilians were injured.
Volunteers at TAU’s situation room defend the IDF’s military actions. “The IDF is doing its best not to harm any civilians on the Palestinian side, spreading flyers, texting and calling them, asking them to evacuate their homes which are located right next to Hamas and Jihad rocket launchers. Hamas is doing the exact opposite, trying to maximize civilian casualties in Israel”, said Gidi Adlersberg.
“Also, the IDF sends humanitarian aid while launching attacks against the Hamas forces,” emphasized Jeremy Dery. According to Lital Josifov, an Engineering student, “Israel supplies Gaza with food, medicines, oil and even electricity, but Hamas is firing missiles from Gaza into Ashkelon, the city that generates them electricity.” During Day 7 of Operation Pillar of Defense, the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed due to rocket fire from Gaza, impeding the entrance of humanitarian aid from Israel.
The volunteers at TAU’s situation room support the policies of the Israeli government and believe that Operation Pillar of Defense was both needed and justified. According to Roy BenEzra “Pillar of Defense is an action of a sovereign country who is trying to defend its civilian population against cruel and vicious terrorists. There cannot be a more justified operation than this”.
Gidi Adlersberg agrees: “Operation Pillar of Defense is not only justified, but absolutely necessary for Israel's civilians to live their normal life. No democratic country in the world could have tolerated this without responding. A country where people work, educate, and seek constant growth and development in all fields and areas has no room for hundreds of rockets being fired-at for such a long time,” he said.
“You would expect any other rational, intelligent human-being to sympathize with this thought. Hopefully, someday, people will understand us. We still believe and work for that to happen”.