It has now been a month since Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli settlements, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping more than 220. How is the country doing today? An inventory.
It has been four weeks since Amit Man, a young paramedic in Kibbutz Be’eri, was shot three times by terrorists. First in the leg, then in the stomach and finally in the head. She died that same day. Today, her sister Haviva says the days and weeks since Amit’s death, since the disastrous October 7th in Israel, are a blur in her head.
A week ago her sister Ruth gave birth to a boy. Instead of Amit, Haviva went to the hospital in Netanya; the birth took 48 hours. The two women lit candles and looked at photos of Amit together. In such moments, the reality seeps into the consciousness of those left behind particularly mercilessly: Amit is no longer there.
Like many friends and families of the victims of October 7th, the four-week mourning period for Amit’s relatives ends today in accordance with Jewish tradition. They will all go to the grave together and there will be a memorial service in the evening. It has been a month since Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists invaded southern Israel from Gaza, gunned down soldiers and brutally murdered civilians in their homes. A war is now raging in Gaza, the Middle East has once again become the focal point that the whole world is watching.
When Haviva visits her mother in the southern city of Netivot, she hears the explosions in Gaza. She knows that innocent people there, women and children, are also paying the price for the massacre. “But if I have a choice between our humanity and our survival, then I choose our survival,” she says.
More than 10,000 people have died in the Gaza Strip in the past four weeks, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, the only institution still collecting figures. The heads of several UN agencies and humanitarian organizations yesterday, as before, urgently called on various Arab countries for a ceasefire. According to the United Nations, a child dies every ten minutes.
For people like the Palestinian Fatima, who follows what is happening in the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, such news is horrific these days. While the rest of the world seems to be getting used to the images from Gaza, Fatima feels just as in hell today as she did four weeks ago. Her parents and 13 siblings are trapped in the enclave. Her niece had to have both legs amputated, her father has recently suffered from incontinence due to the stress of the constant threat to his life, and his brother was hit in the back by shrapnel.
There is always the worry: How are they doing in Gaza?
Sometimes she cannot reach her family in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip for days. She doesn’t know if they are dead or still alive. The fear wears her down. Yesterday evening, after days of uncertainty, a provisional all-clear came again: “Today I reached my brother. He told me you’re fine,” she says.
Because Fatima works for an NGO to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and many of her neighbors in Bethlehem outlaw such work, she prefers not to be quoted by her full name. Your work has become harder since October 7th. Also for you personally. “I know that many Israelis want peace,” she says. But in moments of fear for her family, it is sometimes difficult for her to feel that way.
In Israel’s only metropolis, Tel Aviv, the square in front of the art museum is now commonly referred to as the “Square of the Abductees.” A long Shabbat plaque commemorates the more than 220 hostages who have been held in the Gaza Strip for four weeks. People distribute pins and T-shirts, photos of the hostages, often pictures from better times, to commemorate them. Naomi, 75, wearing magenta lipstick, has hung an Israeli flag around her neck. She came to the center from a suburb of Tel Aviv to commemorate October 7th “to support the families of the hostages,” she says. At 11 a.m. there was a minute’s silence for the victims of October 7th, and someone in the crowd sang the national anthem. A little later, part of the area was temporarily cleared due to a bomb warning – a suspicious object was found.
Naomi is angry that her government has failed to organize a central memorial event for the victims. “They probably don’t dare come to us,” she scoffs. “They know we don’t want them.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to resign, she doesn’t have to hold a poster in the air to do that, that’s clear anyway. Many of those who take to the streets to support the victims’ families see it the same way as Naomi. There is little energy for protests that focus on the resignation of the government. But that’s probably just a matter of time, or at least that’s how Naomi sees it.
Even during the day, many people live like they are living in a nightmare
Like many in Israel, she knows several people who were directly affected by the attacks. The images and stories regularly come back to them in their dreams. The fact that Israel’s army is now in the Gaza Strip reassures them – even if the military’s mistakes that led to the Hamas terrorist attack have to be analyzed after the war.
Many Israelis have been living in a nightmare during the day for the past month. Constantly repeating her sister’s story feels terrible, says Roni Roman. “But it’s the only thing we can do.” Yarden Roman is one of the hostages in the Gaza Strip. The family doesn’t care about anything other than trying to bring Yarden home. Nobody goes to work anymore. Everyone hopes that employers or the state will help out with money until the hostages are back home.
Roni’s job is to manage the “headquarters” – that’s what the family calls the living room in Tel Aviv. Social media calls are posted there, Hamas videos are checked for even the smallest clue and Yarden’s three-year-old daughter is looked after. As the star met the family for the first time shortly after the kidnapping, the family members and friends sat on their laptops late into the night. The rule was: Every minute counts, we can sleep when Yarden is back.
Now, a month later, Roni says: “We’re currently switching from sprint to marathon mode. It’s a scary thought, but we’re just coming to terms with the fact that this could go on for weeks or months.” To do this you have to manage your strength, sleep enough, eat enough. We are far from any kind of normality. This applies to the Romans. This applies to Israel.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.