Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: May 21, 2021

Situation Update from the Orbachs in Israel

Author: Gidon Ariel

 186 total views,  2 views today

| Published: May 21, 2021

I apologize that responding individually to each of you as been an overwhelming task
Besides the “disruption” of thousands of missiles being fired at us, as most of you know, I don’t use electronic equipment on the Sabbath or holidays (we just celebrated Shavuot, limiting the time I had to respond). Additionally, we have another family staying with us as their home is very close to Gaza. My son-in-law has been stuck in the army protecting our nation and people so my daughter and granddaughter are also staying with us. And I also had to prepare a class and teach (in Hebrew of course) on Shavuot night.

I am not really privy to my son-in-law’s responsibilities in the military, but my impression is whatever he does is scary and dangerous and makes Israel safer every single day (he is my hero in more ways than one – as a soldier, a father, a husband, and a “mensch”. and my daughter is a hero for all her hard work to support him in this) . He and my daughter had not spoken for even an hour over the last week. He had not eaten or slept. So when he was allowed to come to us for Shavuot, we were all very excited. My daughter drove all the way to his base to pick him up and bring him home. They came home, he saw his daughter for a few precious minutes and went to sleep. An hour later, he was called back to the army. It was too close to the holiday already so he took the car (with the baby seat), leaving my daughter a bit stranded until a few days later when Orli drove her all the way back to the base to pick up the car.

We have just come out of 2 tragedies, the extended COVID from which we had just started really feeling victory over the pandemic. Then, 2 weeks ago, we had the worst civil tragedy in Israeli history in Mount Meron. A few days later, the missiles started (just to be clear, they never actually stopped since 2008 and have been ongoing for 13 years but just a few here and there, usually intercepted by the Iron Dome Defense System, so the lack of death and destruction doesn’t warrant headlines even though each missile is an attempted murder of masses, since the beginning of 2008)
Sirens are constantly going off. If not the sirens of our own community that send us into the “mamad” (reinforced security rooms), then it is the sirens of the neighboring communities. It is not unusual to repeatedly hear dozens of booms in a very short period. Sometimes one can tell if it is a missile that landed or a missile that was intercepted in the air by our Iron Dome system. Ultimately, the booms are followed by military aircraft (very low flying planes and helicopters taking off from the nearby air force base (I assume) to launch a retaliatory attack (The base is a few kms to one side of us, Gaza is 37 kms to the other side, making our area a common target for rockets, although this time, they are also trying to go after more populated urban centers)

Because of the success rate of the Iron Dome, we worry less than we should and get used to the booms, the planes, and even the sirens.

Even so, it changes the way you think. For example, my 13 month old granddaughter could not fall asleep tonight (Tues). Normally, I would take her out for a walk. If I do that now, am I an irresponsible grandfather? Do I keep her locked in the house? If I do go for a walk, do I stay close to home in case of a siren, or should I walk further and run into someone else’s house? (during one of the first sirens we had about 10 years ago, I was very sick and in the middle of vomiting. Smelly, dirty, and not appropriately dressed, I joined my family in the mamad. And into our mamad, ran 3 girls from outside who didn’t know us and happened to be passing by our home when the siren went off. I was very embarrassed and I am sure that those girls do not have fond memories of the experience either.)

So I did decide to walk my granddaughter around the neighborhood and will run into a neighborhood home if a siren goes off. But there was a lot of noise in the streets and she was not falling asleep. Every passing car, barking dog or stray cat (and especially the frenzy to catch an escaped bunny) catches her attention, so I considered walking on the path that goes around the outside of our neighborhood. However, if a siren goes off, I won’t have time to enter anyone’s home so what will I do if a siren goes off? Now I have to think and prepare. Then I see that each lamppost is surrounded on 3 sides by 3 layers of concrete blocks with just enough room to stick the stroller in. So now I plan that if a siren goes off, I will stick her in between these cement blocks and the 4th side and above her, I will cover with my body (in the past, when caught off-guard by sirens, with nowhere to go, I threw my kids on the ground against a wall and laid on top of them, making sure to cover every inch of their bodies with mine in case of shrapnel). Besides, despite the thousands of rockets over these 2 weeks, who really believes that a rocket will fall near them?

LATER UPDATE: I brought my granddaughter home at 9:40 after she finally fell asleep and put her in her crib. I then sat down and wrote the lines above and went to bed. At 11:40, there was a siren and we had to wake her and all run into the mamad room. It seems Hamas decided to attack our air force bases and, as I mentioned, our home is between a base and Gaza. A missile landed in a field a few hundred meters from the path where I was walking my granddaughter 2 hours earlier. If you see the attached picture, you can see a fire where it landed through the fence that parallels the walking path (where the people are standing). Shrapnel was found the next morning next to a neighbor’s front door. Thank G-D, it did not go through their house.
As we sat in the room, hearing boom after boom followed by aircraft after aircraft, our worries were allayed a bit by watching how much fun my granddaughter was having singing and dancing with all these people in a tiny closed room. Attached is a picture of her in nursery school the next day after the long night. It pretty much expresses how we all felt.

So far, we are safe and healthy. And we are hoping that there will be a quick and speedy end (for the sake of both sides) and that the end results will be a major deterrent in preventing this from happening again (note our military responses to repeated massive missile attacks {in between, the “minor” attacks are ongoing and constant whether or not you hear about them in the news} in 2/08 Operation Hot Winter, 12/08 Operation Cast Lead, 3/12 Operation Retuning Echo, 10/12 Operation Pillar of Defense, 7/14 Operation Protective Edge, 5/19 Operation Closed Garden, 11/19 Operation Black Belt)
I walked the same path again this afternoon (no baby) and saw between 30-50 puffs of clouds in the sky (i.e. intercepted missiles coming in our direction), along with the streaks of the missiles that intercepted them.

Two things you should remember

1. Every missile is an attempt to murder scores of civilians. And their lethalness should not be measured by their success rate. Thank G-D, we have invested in the technology and preparedness, as well as Divine Providence to survive this with “minimal” injuries, death, and destruction. My wife’s students (who live close to the Gaza Strip where she teaches) have been injured, lost their homes, lost friends and family members, suffer PTSD, shock, and trauma where bomb shelters are a way of life practically since birth.

This latest conflict is far different in its scope and intensity. First of all the frequency of the missiles and amount of missiles in each volley is beyond anything we have ever experienced, sometimes dozens of missiles every few minutes. I don’t know the capabilities of the Iron Dome Defense System, but this has certainly been pushing it to its limits and it seems to be more effective than many expected (sadly, no defense is 100% effective). Additionally, they are using anti-tank weaponry against civil homes and vehicles.
Additionally, we are fighting on 2 ½ fronts. Of course there is Gaza, which has proven it can attack the majority of the population. Secondly, we have an internal front, being attacked by those who live amongst us and even in places of successful coexistence, car rammings, stabbings, shootings, looting, burnings, and lynchings (today, the family of a lynch victim donated his kidney to an Arab woman). This is an even more difficult front as you never can really know who are your enemies. And the “half” front I mentioned is Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon, who are always on the verge of attack. They did shoot a set of rockets at least twice, seemingly in the direction of the oil refineries in Haifa.

2. It is nerve-wracking to live here. Claiming otherwise would be a lie. However, realistically, you are still more likely to be hit by a drunk driver in America than a missile in Israel. Every country we have lived in for the last 2000 years (which is at least 1900 years before there was a “Palestinian” nation) has been more dangerous than anything we are facing now. Even today, in the most enlightened societies, we are seeing increasing anti-Semitic trends. I do believe in the Bible, which means that I also believe we are living in the safest place we can be, in the place G-D told us to be, and this is the place where I wish to raise my children as part of the majority and not a minority, where the holidays of my people are national holidays and where the tragedies of my people are national tragedies. I do not enjoy the danger or uncertainty, but I certainly prefer this danger and uncertainty to many of the others we have faced or may face (G-D forbid) in the future
Before I finish, just a tidbit that is ironic, sad, and even humorous if it wasn’t so true. Despite everything I have written until now, there actually is one winner in these wars. Not far from my home is the Nesher Cement Factory. They offer tours and, as a tour guide, I thought I should be familiar with what they offer. I expected it to be boring but it was actually very nice (and recommended).
And the most surprising thing I learned – the largest client of Israel’s largest cement company is none other than …
The Palestinian Authority.

Every time there is a conflict like this and we retaliate and they need to rebuild, well, you can imagine the benefits to a cement company. On the other hand, much of the cement we supply to them, instead of using it to rebuild the cities, they use our cement to build all their terror tunnels to attack us. What an ironic and ridiculous situation!

Please do not use comments for debates, arguments, blame or criticisms. If my thoughts and experiences do not find favor in your eyes, feel free to not read.

if you have any questions, or would like links to articles that I found informative, please let me know privately (preferably via email)

Here’s to hoping that the day will come that we pass on to our children the gift of peace, respect, consideration, and prosperity…

Thank you so much,
David Orbach

Thank you so much,

David Orbach

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