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February 22, 2016 2:09 pm

Israelis on Gaza Border Document Fears of Imminent Hamas Confrontation (VIDEO)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Four of the participants in the Channel 2 video clip, expressing their anxiety about living near the Gaza border. Photo: Screenshot.

Four of the participants in the Channel 2 video clip, expressing their anxiety about living near the Gaza border. Photo: Screenshot.

Residents of southern Israeli communities close to the Gaza border described their anxiety and helplessness in the face of what they fear is an imminent threat from Hamas in a new video clip, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Monday.

According to Channel 2, despite the relative quiet in that area since the end of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, there is a growing sense of dread among the people living close to the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave. This is due to a combination of hearing threats from Hamas leaders about their plans to kidnap and kill Israelis and the discovery of a number of tunnels that collapsed (or were destroyed) of late. Some residents have even claimed to hear digging noises under their houses, though the IDF has said investigations into specific complaints have come up empty.

In the two-minute clip, a 26-year-old Kibbutz Kfar Aza resident named Yonatan said, “For the past 16 years, we have been at war and see no end on the horizon. If it doesn’t come from the air [rocket fire], it comes from below [tunnels]. We don’t know where it will hit us, and the residents are beginning to show signs of panic. People are sleeping with knives under their pillows, which is surreal by any standards.”

According to Channel 2, though this is not a new situation, Yonatan fears that the powers-that-be are not doing enough to provide security for the residents. “For more than a decade, the government has simply been sitting on the fence and doesn’t grasp that the families and children here cannot do the same,” he said. “…I would expect the government to take responsibility. The whole region is suffering from terrorist attacks that are killing it demographically and economically, and there is no political or security vision; there is no plan.”

Nofar, a 28-year-old resident of Moshav Netiv Ha’Asara, said, “All this pastoral beauty here could end in one boom,” referring both to suddenness and something explosive. “The peacefulness here is imaginary. Ultimately, we are located in the most fiery place in the country.”

In 2007, said Channel 2, Nofar’s house suffered a direct hit from a Kassam rocket, and it was only through her good luck that she was not hurt. “If I am still living here after that, it only means that it’s not easy to pick up and leave. You live a lie; tell yourself that a terrorist won’t suddenly appear,” she said. “I paint a picture for myself of a situation in which everything is under control and all will be taken care of, because living in fear is simply not living. I prefer being apathetic and frustrated to giving up on this place. I would like it to be quiet here, but as much as I try to be optimistic, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think that will happen.”

Nofar’s father, Eshel, also shared his concerns. “We exist here between walls that protect the community from sniper fire, but our great worry is over tunnels being dug in our direction,” he said. “There are people here who claim they hear noises; everything has to be taken into account.”

He added, “The hope of all of us here is that at long last they [Israel’s leaders] will reach a [peace] agreement with our [Arab] neighbors. If they don’t reach an agreement, the state has to make a decision to send in the army to destroy the tunnels in order to remove this threat from the residents here.”

Mor, a 20-year-old resident of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, said something slightly different. “There are people who would raise an eyebrow at [my saying this], but it’s a great area with fresh air, pubs, cafes, restaurants and events for children. We have a strong army surrounding us, but the government is slightly neglectful. I would expect at this stage for us to be in the process of achieving some kind of political solution. But they’re busy with the casino,” she said, referring to a current government controversy over whether to build a gambling haven in Eilat, to improve tourism revenues.

Molly, a mother-of-three who lives in Moshav Ein HaBesor, said, “We are living in an impossible security reality of threats of war every year or two, and in between, the ongoing threat of missiles and terror tunnels. Every day, more than 1,000 trucks pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip and we all know what the cement being delivered on them is being used for. Raw materials are being transferred to Hamas to enable it to rehabilitate the city and build tunnels under our feet.”

Gai, a 51-year-old resident of Kibbutz Be’eri, said, “I am worried about the quiet here. Our [Hamas] neighbors are talking about the tunnels they are building and we are sitting here with our arms crossed. Our children were born into the reality of war and air-raid sirens, which for us seems to be the norm. It is said that [the kids] will overcome it, but they won’t; it is the kind of trauma that’s there for life.”

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