The barbarians at the gate
I’m not the same person I was when I went to sleep last Friday night. Our country isn’t the same as it was. We’ll never be the same again. On Friday night, a nation went to sleep filled with joy. How could we not be joyful? It was the end of Sukkot, and we would celebrate Simchat Torah.
At 06:30 on Saturday, everything changed. Red alerts on our phones went haywire, and what followed was mayhem. Non-stop rockets as far as Netanya, Jerusalem, Modi’in, and everywhere in between. We’re used to rockets. We know what to do.
But what do we do when Hamas terrorists who go from house to house, murdering innocent people, setting fire to homes, executing people in the street, slaughtering 260 at a peace party, and kidnapping nearly 200, infiltrate our peaceful southern towns and kibbutzim?
These are the scenes from horror movies. Except they aren’t. This is our reality, and we’re all struggling to absorb it. We cannot.
By now, we’re starting to know the names of the dead. Among them are people we know. As I volunteer with the Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO), I have taken many delegations to our projects in the south in towns like Sderot and to kibbutz Netiv HaAsara.
I’ve always been so proud not just to show off our projects like rocket-proof day care centres, but also the residents of these amazing towns. These are the nicest people you could meet. They have a strong Zionist identity, and care deeply for each other, having endured decades of rocket attacks.
We have day care centres that could keep the rockets out, but we couldn’t keep the monsters out. They came into homes and slaughtered whole families. They took pregnant mothers, Holocaust survivors, disabled, the elderly, and frightened children into Gaza. The barbarity and cruelty is too much to fathom. They came into our kibbutzim and murdered. The mayor of Sderot said that Israelis couldn’t comprehend the depths of the devastation.
The Sderot police station where I have taken delegations is no more. Hamas terrorists held police hostage for hours. In order to take out the terrorists, the station had to be demolished. My only hope is that the hostages were no longer there and didn’t suffer.
In 2014, WIZO evacuated the residents of Netiv HaAsara to safety during Operation Protective Edge. They hosted a magnificent lunch to thank us. My tile of peace is fixed to the Wall of Peace, which is its project. How many are still alive? Young people celebrating a festival of peace, slaughtered as they ran for their lives. Eyewitness accounts claim some of the women were raped.
Hamas and its supporters, who are nothing but apologists for depravity, are revelling in their evil. The desecrated bodies of their victims, paraded in the streets, shared across social media. The world is watching in horror as the extent of their hatred is exposed. We have warned for decades – do you believe us now?
The barbarians who murdered our people didn’t care if we were religious or secular, left or right, a Bibi supporter or a Lapid supporter. They just wanted to kill us.
The African National Congress and its cohorts who say we deserve this because of “apartheid” and occupation – well, here’s a fact they need to know. On Saturday, rockets killed Bedouin and Arabs. Foreign workers were killed and were taken hostage. Israelis from all walks of life are defending our country. As I write this, more than 1 200 have been murdered, 123 have fallen in battle, and at least 200 have been taken hostage. These numbers are expected to rise. May their memories be blessed.
We have faced the unimaginable together, we’re mourning together, and G-d willing, we’ll be victorious together.
The barbarians came through the gates. They opened the gates of hell. We’ll never be the same again.
- Rolene Marks is a Middle East commentator often heard on radio and TV and is the co-founder of Lay of the Land and the SA-Israel Policy Forum.