Encounter 206 – 18.2.2022

A sunny Friday, Be’eri Reserve abounds in bloom and hikers. The surroundings of the “lighthouse” are buzzing with people on bicycles, vehicles and legs. Just pick and order, crowds abound, reach out and touch them.
First group joins: Families, parents and children.
My introductory “speech” and Ofek after me.
Ofek says he came because here he hears the words from the “people” and not from the leaders in their media language. He only heard about Gaza from stories of those who were there. He also hopes to be there.
Hayuta here to say that human beings are equal and the value of man, as far as he is human, is the same.
For Nahshi, Gaza’ns are people he knows. Gaza is close in sight and touch. It seems delusional, so close and impossible to help and communicate with each other. The disconnect is terrible. Come to remind himself that this is not normal and there will be better days.
Moshe prefers to define himself as a resident of the area. Occasionally comes to the “lighthouse”, because here, in talks with Gaza, understandings and agreements of basic human values are formed.
Margalit says that they, there in Gaza, are human beings but are controlled by a terrorist organization and they are against us. She asks us what we think our side should do … After all, we are the ones who experience the “not nice” side of the Gazans.
Noa, stumbled upon …
When Roni learned to drive, she did so naturally in the city closest to her place of residence, in Rafah… Roni lived close to the Gaza Strip, and “lived in Gaza.” This is a mission for her to pass on information about Gaza. It is important to Roni that we know and live with the neighbors. When the Gazans realize they have support, it will be better. Tells about Rami Kleinstein’s show in the war in 2014 during which she received a phone call from a friend in Gaza who was worried about her safety due to a missile that fell near her home, heared the noise of helicopters in the air and thought of her Gazan friend who has no protection at all… Out of this situation came an article that was broadcast on television, in which the Gazan friend told the reporter and Roni “You’re there and we’re here. Nobody’s going anywhere. Think of us too.”
Shmulik always comes and says that to a certain extent, this is a conscientious objector … knows that for friends on the other side who know about us, it is important to know that we are here. For them, much more than for us, it takes courage to develop contact with Israelis.
Yiftach says everyone wants peace. He wonders if on the other side there is an openness like ours…
Or introduces and says that it is very beautiful what is happening here, in the “lighthouse”. The direction in which things have turned in the last 15 years has greatly surprised him. He is discouraged by the “story”, it is nice to see hope “in you” he concludes.
Haim is one of those children, their mother told them that when they grow up they will not go to the army because there will be no need for an army when there is peace … Haim can understand that in Gaza and the West Bank they do not want to see us here. He is skeptical. Do not believe that such an initiative, like the “lighthouse”, will do anything.
As mentioned, we hosted families and had children as well. When their parents wanted to continue the trip, Ofir, a 10-year-old girl, asked to say something.
Ophir said that if everyone does something for someone else it will be better!
These go and others come, sit down and treat themselves to coffee. And as usual, I introduce us…
Shmulik says that we are sitting, talking and hoping that the wound will heal (the conflict…). Today, he says, workers are moving to Israel and there is employment. It’s really a rescue for them.
Ramy says that when he was a child, he walked to the border with the Strip. They, the children, went to the border and waved to the workers who worked in the fields. After the war they visited there. As an adult, he told his children that he did not engage in hatred. We sit here out of a choice of love. Ramy has no doubt that in love we will reach a better place. When we speak about Gaza, we tell each other that it is a temporary matter and we will meet soon …
Roni talks about the connections she creates between young people in Israel and Gaza. Our circle of friends there is growing, she says. When she receives pictures from Gaza of happy children, for example when they received new schoolbags for school (with the help of donations from Israelis), it gives her hope.
Ella is 13 years old and the word “Gaza” reminds her of Hamas.
Maya says we are in a different reality and fed on the media that portrays Gaza in a negative way. When she pauses to think, she realizes that under Hamas the situation there is bleak and difficult. She listened to those who spoke before her and said we had renewed things she did not know before.
Yelena says they live far from the Strip and understand that for us, the closer ones, it is different. For her, Gaza is what the media says …
Oleg came to Israel in 1990. Two years later he had already served in the Gaza Strip. There he first met Gaza. There were two Jewish families who lived in Rafah Yam and did not talk to each other … the soldiers took care of them. The sight of crabs coming out en masse from the sea, at four in the morning, reminded him of National Geographic… The image of Gaza today is hungry and poor with bad rulers. The communities in the area suffer from shelling and he identifies with us more than with them. A different attitude towards Gaza could have brought a lot of tourists and prosperity.
Moshe studied here, at the “Lighthouse”, That there 2 million inhabitants in Gaza and only 2 pianos … one of them is a gift from Roni. Tells the history of the kite that is permanently placed as part of the circle scenery.
Hayuta lives close to the strip and hears the muezzin calls. Sometimes we are asked, what exactly can be done? … Well, Hayuta believes that words have power. Doing nothing is a convenient option. Also – just “talking about” it’s empowering.
Ofer says that Gaza is part of the Land of Israel in its various components. Defines himself as a man of peace and asks what they are willing to do to change their bitter fate… they are apathetic to a government that abuses them.
Elizabeth says that “once Gaza was Gaza” is no longer today.
Shlomi says it takes two for tango. If there is no desire on the other hand, our humanity will not help.
Meir thinks that collaborations between groups, rather than between individuals, can create an effect. Where is the group there, on the other side, which acts like you? he asks…
Irit believes in win-win. To achieve the result requires effort on both sides. If there is a will on both sides it will be possible to achieve wonderful things. Realizes there are some “buds” on the other side but not developed enough.
For Ilana, “Gaza is Trouble”! I do not know how to get out of it … She feels as if there is no desire for change in Gaza but she lives far away and not really informed… Hope it will be good.
Groups change again
Itzik says that today, Gaza is a bone in the throat. Served a lot of reservists in Gaza. Once upon a time, at first, it was like a trip … he did car treatments in a garage in Gaza … today he feels like the people who spoke before him. We, he adds, have a tendency to help them but they are not a serious partner. We try, but they are not interested in contacting us. Hears that their goal, to eliminate us. He’s not convinced it’s true and pretty much wonders where the truth is.
Ruthie has a love for human beings on the one hand, and fear on the other. Rounds of violence.
Judah says the situation in Gaza serves the rulers of both sides. Without governments the residents would have gotten along just fine.
Rachel takes care of us. It does not seem to her that we are sitting comfortably here. Gaza for her is the people who suffer with us …
Yona was a rookie soldier in 1967 serving in the area and was afraid of being killed.
David opposes the use of the word “they”. The residents and the government should be separated. The question is, how much do we help ordinary citizens to express themselves in front of the rulers, with us and with them.
Ronny explains the point that needs to start from somewhere. Tells about groups of teenagers on both sides she meets. About the desire to look ahead and work together. Tells about a celebration of International Peace Day three years ago and how they celebrated simultaneously on both sides of the fence. Feels like she’s the voice of Gaza. Not a sound of misery, she says, but a cry that expresses hope. Do not believe that in Gaza there is someone, even the worst, who really thinks we can be thrown into the sea …
Then we talked to Rami, he feels safe now where he is. Looking for partners for Palestinian and Israeli initiatives, another initiative such as the schoolbags operation. Leave Gaza for a short time and will come back stronger. Think the circle of activists can be expanded. Wants to be listened to.
That is, the south returns to the north and the red remains.
Partial list of participants:
Nahshi, Roni, Ofek, Shmulik, Maharan, Jaber, Oded, Rami, Rami, Hayuta, Moshe, Mary, Margalit, Noa, Yiftach, Or, Haim, Ofir (and 6 other girls and boys who did not speak or say names), Ella, Maya, Yelena, Oleg, Ofer, Elizabeth, Shlomi, Meir, Irit, Ilana, Itzik, Ruthie, Yehuda, Rachel, Yona, David.
Wrote: Oded