Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem
Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, 3 Israeli citizens and over 80 Palestinians have died. © Tania de Ildefonso Ocampos
Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem
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Last updated: April 29, 2013

The fears of Israeli women at a time of war

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Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, 3 Israeli citizens and over 80 Palestinians have died. Rocket fire in southern Israel escalates and the Israeli Air Force continues to strike objectives in the Gaza Strip.

Given the incessant cross-border violence, Israel has recruited 75.000 reservists for a possible ground incursion. Affected Israeli citizens share their fears with Your Middle East.

Melanie Bokstad-Horev, a PhD student from Denmark who currently lives in Be’er Sheva, married her Israeli husband in September. Due to the escalation of cross-border violence, he received a “Tsav-8”, an emergency call for military service.

“I feel like my man went to war, that the IDF took him. But thinking of all the civilians under attack, especially in Southern Israel... If he can help to stop that, then it is good."

She feels worried all the time, imagining bad things.

"I love him so much, so it is really hard to let him go. I worry every second he is gone. If there is a ground incursion into Gaza, I will worry even more. Not just for him, for everyone, soldiers and civilians. I hope it is not needed, but Israel has to do what it takes to protect its civil population."

Jenny Schuster’s husband, as Melanie’s, also received an emergency reserves call-up, a “Tsav-8”. “I prepared myself mentally for this. I knew it was going to happen. Last time it was harder for me because we didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

“During the Lebanon War and during the Second Intifada, tons of soldiers died, so I was really stressed. Now I’m less worried, I don’t think there’s going to be a ground incursion into Gaza, and so, most of the soldiers will come home. We will not go into Gaza unless is necessary.”

She admits feeling “a bit stressed” but also believes in a truce. “It bothers me that I can’t continue with my life as usual, and I’m also worried about the Israeli citizens, although I believe there’s going to be a cease-fire soon, no one wants a war now.”

On the other hand, Zuzana Barak, a MA student of Security and Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University, says she is not “mentally prepared for this situation”. “I know the Israeli army is one of the strongest armies in the world, so when I think about that, I feel safe. I trust the IDF 100% but I’m not used to living in the middle of a conflict so I have been panicking for the past three days when the alarms went off: I had to leave my shopping in the middle of a supermarket and hide in a bomb shelter on Friday, and then again run into hiding when I was taking a shower just with my towel on.”

“I don’t understand how people in the South are coping with this on a daily basis, I really admire their bravery, that they can continue with their daily life, cause I have not been able to focus on my studies every since the conflict escalated.”

Keren Simons, a British-Israeli who currently lives in Be’er Sheva, claims that since the start of the cross-border violence, she has been feeling “pretty terrified”.

“It is hard to be alone when the sirens go off, and I don't have access to a shelter. Luckily, some kind friends with a shelter took me in on Wednesday night. We were up all day and night running in to the shelters,” Keren said.

“I am angry. The south is the area within Israel which suffers from these wars and no one ever asks us whether we are willing to make that sacrifice. They decide in the centre of the country, and we have to deal with it. Obviously, Gaza has to deal with it as well, but i'm talking about the Israeli side.”

Although she has family serving in the army, Keren is not confident that Netanyahu’s dealing with the crisis is the appropriate way of solving the problem.

“I have no idea what might happen, but I hope this will be over soon. I am watching the news and see what is happening in Gaza and feel sick about all the innocent lives being taken. I want this war to be over and I don't agree that this was the best way of dealing with rocket fire, even though I am terrified when the sirens go off so continuously.”

Tania de Ildefonso Ocampos
Tania is a Spanish journalist based in Tel Aviv. She specialises in the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Israeli History and Politics.
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