I sit on a hill, overlooking Gaza Strip, so near yet so far. It seems almost peaceful. No planes in the air, no fires, no pillars of smoke. Just the sound of vehicles on the highway below. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was looking at another Israeli town. You’d think there was no conflict, no ongoing war, no recent operation. Just peace and quiet.
I pass through Sderot, and it’s even more absurd. With a few minor and old exceptions, everything’s been cleared and patched up. You wouldn’t know by looking that this town has been bombarded for over a decade.
And I’m back on a tiyul, back where it started last time. So much time has passed in the last 9 weeks. I’m back and I’m as lost and as out of place as ever.
So I do what I do best: I push myself, add challenges, drive myself harder, carry more weight, more bags, punish myself. And it works, for a bit. Until the late night conversations start, the drinking, the chain smoking. Anything and everything to distract myself.
It’s beautiful, amazing, majestic, and it is no longer mine. The once familiar trails have become foreign, a burden, a source of worry. The people that in such a short time had become family are now kept at arm’s length, for their sake as much as my own.
It’s never over for me, for my kind. Things change: politics, borders, conflict locations. But for us, peace will never come.
Because long after the world has forgotten, we continue to live with the memories, in the aftermath of something that was always bigger than us, yet exclusively ours…
This is the last of the series of pieces written during and after Pillar of Defense… Hopefully I’ll have more positive things coming soon… I’d like to thank the entire Pardes community for all the love and support over the last couple of months, thank you for being there, for not letting me sink or give up!!!