Israelis unite under physical, economic pressure


Author: Dawid Yzelle

It has now been a month since the Hamas invasion in the south of Israel that triggered an ongoing war between Israel and Gaza. Thousands of people have already died and in a country so small that it could fit in the Kruger National Park, everyone is directly affected by the war.

Amit*, a 30-year-old fitness instructor from Tel Aviv, told RNews that Israelis’ lives have changed irrevocably since the attack on October 7. “We are affected physically and mentally. For example, most people here cannot return to their ‘regular’ jobs. It also affects our economy.”

One of Amit’s friends was killed in the terrorist attack early that fateful Saturday morning. The 31-year-old Tal* served in the same army unit as him in earlier years. “After we completed our service, Tal remained in the army. A wonderful man with a good heart.”

According to Amit, more than 350,000 soldiers have since been called up to protect Israel’s borders in the north and south against possible invasions.

The South African born Anneke* (27) lives in Raanana in Central Israel. Her husband, Barak (30), was already called up on 7 October.

Anneke, who works at a school for children with disabilities, explains that since the attack from Gaza in the south Israel is now also threatened from the north from Lebanon by Hezbollah.

She tells that the school where she worked was closed for a week after the attack and that few people ventured into the streets at first.

Amit says missiles are still being fired at Israel from Gaza. “Even in Tel Aviv, which is relatively far from the border with Gaza, people are often forced to seek bomb shelters when the sirens start wailing.”

Yael*, a mother of two who lives in a town in the West Bank with about 5,000 inhabitants, says that not a single Israeli family has been untouched by the war. “Everyone’s lives are potentially in danger on a daily basis. One must remember that it is a small country. The whole of Israel is a war zone.”

Yael says the atmosphere is tense throughout. “Anything can happen, but you have to get on with life as much as possible.”

She talks about the impact the war has on a mother of 12 children. “Six of her sons, four of her sons-in-law, three of her grandsons, and a nephew are now all fighting in the war. You can imagine the stress people live under.”

According to her, many people cannot work now. “Many men were drafted into the army and their wives and children were left behind. Especially mothers with small children have to make the choice whether to go back to work, or stay with their children. This has an impact financially, and of course also emotionally. Despite this, people try to stay positive and help each other where they can.”

Amit says that the country is not currently experiencing a food shortage, but that farm workers, mostly seasonal workers from other parts of the world such as Thailand, have left the country because of the war. Not only must Israelis now defend the country, but also help on farms to ensure fresh produce such as vegetables and fruit is still available.

According to Yael, food prices have risen sharply. “Certain businesses were closed when the war broke out. At first, only the absolutely essential enterprises, such as superpowers, were open.

“Everyone has been told to keep extra water and food, as well as essentials such as flashlights, batteries and candles on hand.”

Yael explains that psychological warfare is as much a part of Israelis’ reality as the physical war.

“Children feel the tension and schools cater for this. Experts hold discussions with learners and as far as possible they are protected against the impact of, among other things, graphic visual material that is sent into the world.”

War dwarfs differences

Anneke says that although residents have been divided over certain government decisions in recent years, Israelis put aside their differences the moment the war began. “Now everyone stands together to help each other and win the war.”

She says hotels offer free accommodation and strangers open their homes to families from the north and the south.

“Day and night, volunteers help organize and transport donations. Most of the restaurants only open to make food for the soldiers, and for families affected by the violence. Everyone donates food, clothes and other necessities.”

Amit confirms it. “Everyone now has only one goal in mind. To deal a blow to terrorism and restore peace for the people of Israel.”

With him, there is no doubt that Israel will win this war. “We will get through this, and at the end of the war we will be stronger and wiser.”

*Sources’ surnames are withheld, among other things for security reasons.