From Israel’s front line

2012-11-23 00:00

A FORMER Zululand resident working for the Israeli government in Jerusalem said hearing the air raid sirens and running towards shelters is “hugely traumatic”.

Jenna Reinbach, who is currently on an internship with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, Israel, said all Israelis have become the victims of post-traumatic stress.

“We hear explosions in the distance, we hear explosions regardless of whether the Iron Dome intercepts the incoming rocket or not. The suspense of not knowing where the rockets will land adds to the pressure, since a direct hit can take down an apartment building. We all have just over a minute to find shelter,” said Reinbach.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said during the eight day conflict they hit 1 500 targets while Gaza launched more than 1 500 rockets back at Israel, of which, more than 400 were intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome Anti-Missile System.

The Israeli government has accused the Hamas-led Gaza territory of shooting several thousand surface-to-air missiles into Israel, targeting schools and civilian areas, as the reason for their air strikes on the Palestinian territory.

Reinbach said the air raid sirens sounded for the first time since 1970 in Jerusalem, last week Friday.

“It was surreal. More rockets were fired at Jerusalem this week. If you are caught in an open area without a shelter nearby, you have to lie flat on the ground with your hands covering your head. My home doesn’t have a safe room, so I end up lying under the kitchen table,” said Reinbach.

The former director of a Pro-Israeli advocacy group called TaMaR South Africa, which promotes Israeli-South African co-operation and improved relations between the two nations, said Hamas had fired over 1 000 rockets into Israeli territory in the last week.

“The psychological trauma that is being suffered by Israeli citizens, especially children in the south who had endured rocket attacks for the last decade, is immeasurable. The rockets have taken a psychological, physical and emotional toll on Israeli citizens. Many Israeli citizens are currently undergoing some form of trauma counselling,” said Reinbach.

She said despite many South African organisations, government officials and media outlets openly backing the Palestinian cause, the belief that a correlation can be drawn between apartheid South Africa and the Israeli/Gaza relationship is unfounded.

“There is absolutely no correlation between pre-1994 South Africa and the situation in Israel. Israeli Arab citizens have full citizenship rights that far outweighs anything under apartheid. Palestinians are not Israeli citizens, nor do they want to be Israeli citizens. Gaza and the Palestinian authority are autonomous. On a political, geo-political and historical basis there is no comparison, whatsoever. Israel was established by the United Nations,” said Reinbach.

She said the enormous uptick of aggression from Hamas in Gaza is largely the result of “Hamas believing they now have the full support of the Arab world” after the Arab Spring.

“This has little to do with economy and everything to do with a continuation of aggression on Israel which has been ongoing since its establishment in 1948. The Hamas Charter itself calls for the ultimate destruction of Israel.”

Read another viewpoint on page 10.

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