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Carol Miles

Carol Miles: Volunteering in Israel

by Carol Miles, August 9, 2014

As a long term volunteer, almost full-time since 2009, with the Bridges for Peace Food Distribution Centre, the current conflict with Gaza is not the first time we have had to run for the bomb shelters. Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 started because of the incessant missiles launched at Israeli communities. In fact, I recall an air raid siren sounding in Jerusalem just as Shabbat was beginning. 


The current campaign, Operation Protective Edge, against Hamas in Gaza started with the kidnapping of 3 young Israeli students. We at Bridges for Peace were among the thousands fervently praying for the safe return of the teenage boys.  When we heard the bodies had been found, we wept with the nation, mourned the loss of these precious young lives, and took Shiva baskets to the grieving families.


As the conflict escalated, more sirens alerting us to incoming missiles wailed in Jerusalem. We ran to the shelters knowing we had 90 seconds to get to safety.  Residents in southern Israeli communities and cities closer to Gaza have a mere 15 seconds!  In the apartment building where I live, several older people and a family with a young boy have a very difficult, if not impossible, time getting into the shelter on time.


One of the regular functions of the Food Bank is to deliver food to organizations and municipalities to help the poor. On July 9, I was able to go on a delivery taking food to communities bordering Gaza. We made deliveries in Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Ekron, Gedera, and a few others.  Besides the food, we also brought several bags of teddy bears (picture is Hudson) and some colouring books, pencil crayons, and stickers for children in Ashkelon Hospital and for those spending hours and hours in bomb shelters. The streets were so very quiet, sandy beaches were deserted, few vehicles moved on the highways. Yes, there were air raid sirens, but we were safe.


I have seen my neighbours, people I know whose sons, daughters and husbands have been called to go and defend Israel against terrorism, again.  It makes me sad, and yet so very proud of the Israeli people, the eternal people.


While here in Jerusalem during this conflict, the most startling contrast visible every day, is the Hebrew value of Life, against the horrifically violent terrorists, who honour a culture of death, but use life values as “weapons of war” against Israelis and all people who value life.


Yesterday [August 5], a terrorist incident occurred. A man controlling a huge excavator battered and tipped over a bus in Jerusalem, which again highlighted the difference in values. An excavator, much like the one in the attack, is parked outside the school and synagogue across the lane from me. I think about the children. I think about the trauma the people on both sides are going through. I watch a little more carefully and stay closer to home during certain times.


This morning on the way to the Food Bank, just before 8 am, I heard a huge boom. I found out later the Gaza terrorists had fired another furious round of missiles toward central Israel, just seconds before the sixth proposed ceasefire was to begin. Apparently, pieces of a missile landed just south of where I was walking.


In spite of this, I still feel safer here than in any other country. I am so proud of the IDF [Israel Defense Force], the Israeli people, and of what Bridges for Peace has continued to do during this difficult conflict with Hamas terrorists. Israel is the Land of Promise, chosen by the One God, who continues to keep covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


Am Israel Chai.

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