What Will Be at the End of It All?
It’s 8 AM on Monday, a morning that should be noisy with the sounds of life, of people going to work and school, but instead, it’s silent with the occasional sound of a fighter plane above, heading north or south.
It’s now day three since our reality changed. Some 60 hours since Hamas terrorists invaded the area around the Gaza border, sending rockets into Israeli towns and cities and, more harrowingly, shooting their way into peoples’ homes where they killed, burned and kidnapped men, women and children.
We didn’t know any of this early Saturday morning when I was awakened by the completely unexpected sound of a rocket siren. I shook my husband, then ran to wake up our teenage sons and push everyone into the sealed room that doubles as our guest room, slamming shut the heavy metal shield and window.
We sat there for the required 10 minutes, figuring the siren was a one-off, as Hamas doesn’t shoot many rockets toward Jerusalem for fear of hitting the Temple Mount. But then there was another siren and another. We sat on the couch, discussing what to do about shul and the long day of Simchat Torah services at our communal egalitarian synagogue in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona.
We never made it to shul, figuring few others would. Instead, my husband and I turned to our phones, which we don’t use on Shabbat or holidays. I checked the news being released by my workplace, The Times of Israel, and Ynet and the latest on X (formerly known as Twitter), where fellow Israeli journalists offered mostly trustworthy thoughts, retweets and information as I followed the unfolding nightmare.
We saw unimaginable footage of Hamas terrorists roaming the streets of Sderot in white pickup trucks, infiltrating peoples’ homes, shooting and killing, taking over the police station. And it got so much worse.
We now know about the many families in the Gaza border communities who holed up in their sealed rooms at the first 6:30 AM rocket, only to find Hamas gunmen at their doors. Some terrorists were dressed as Israeli soldiers, raiding and burning homes, killing entire families, taking people captive.
There are impossible-to-conceive clips of elderly grandmothers being ridden in golf carts into Gaza, or a young woman’s body, exposed and spit on. Of children, encircled by Gazan kids, taunted and teased and who knows what else. Babies left at the border, or with a neighbor, their mother and father missing.
There are harrowing accounts from the Supernova music festival, a typical holiday eve music rave in a forest outside Kibbutz Re’im, attended by at least a thousand 20-somethings. They partied until dawn and were roused by rockets and Hamas terrorists who chased them, shooting and killing more than 260 at the latest count. Some were taken into captivity and others escaped, hiding under bushes or piles of their friends’ dead bodies.
My friends’ son is one of those kids who has been missing since Saturday at 8 AM. The last they heard from him was two WhatsApp messages. One said, “I love you.” The other said, “I’m sorry.”
As of now, more than 900 Israelis have been killed and at least 52 taken into captivity in the Gaza Strip. There are at least 2,600 injured, many seriously, which means the number of victims will rise.
Thousands of Israeli reservists have been called up, including my nephews and neighbors, friends’ children and my boys’ teachers. There will be a ground incursion into Gaza, with tanks and armed personnel carriers and mothers who feel relieved when they find out their sons won’t be exposed outside the vehicle. But that means someone else’s son will be exposed.
There will be hundreds of funerals in the next few days, and I don’t know how many I will attend. At this point, I’m taking each day in 30-minute clusters, writing and crying and talking and not sure what will be at the end of it all.
Jessica Steinberg is the arts and culture editor at The Times of Israel.