How Does it Feel to Live in Israel Under This Situation?

October 12, 2023
Eliya Hajjaj

Be'er Sheva, Israel

Class of 2025

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On Saturday at 6:30 in the morning, the day after Sukkot, alarms started going off all over the country from the Gaza Strip to Tel Aviv; this caused all the people of Israel to wake up in surprise. The surprise came with pressure and fear. But we have already gotten used to this fear, "It's okay, only alarms, we got through it so many times, what does it matter?” But how wrong were we? After a few minutes, videos of terrorist infiltration in cities throughout the south began appearing on the networks, cities only a few miles from me.

About half an hour later, we found out the shocking news that the residents of Ofef were being held hostage and murdered non-stop; many people were fighting for their lives without real protection; they were unarmed citizens who woke up on their day of rest against armed murderous terrorists, all I am describing is roughly what happened from 6:30-7:00. My feelings in those moments were unceasing anxiety, panic, fear, and tears. I was afraid for my friends who lived there. I was afraid that they would be kidnapped, raped and murdered. I sent dozens of messages while crying and with the questions: What will they come to my house with? What happened to the IDF? What if this is just the beginning? When will it end? Where can you run away to?

Most of these questions remain unanswered and will remain so for a long time. The only answer we got was what happened to the IDF, and it is the answer that no one wanted to receive. Whole bases were slaughtered in cold blood, and all the cameras were bombed. A war that will take a long time, a war with many dead and kidnapped.

You have to understand something; the State of Israel has never faced anything like this. The closest thing that happened was the Yom Kippur War, but even that didn't reach this level. The next day, we realized the numbers, at least about 900 people, parents, babies, elderly, Holocaust survivors, teenagers, and soldiers were murdered. At least 150 people were abducted to Gaza by the terrorists. These numbers had never been seen in Israel until that Saturday. Israel had no more than ten abductees and some of them are still abducted. So what will happen to the 150 now?

Another thing that happened in this operation was the slaughter of at least 250 young people at a nature party, which is one of the things that will always be remembered from this operation. What was supposed to be joy and fun turned into dozens of terrorists slaughtering dozens of people and kidnappings without stopping. Dozens of videos of murders and kidnappings that the terrorists were published in the first days; I didn't stop crying; there wasn't a moment when I didn't have tears in my eyes. 

A few hours after the start of the operation, my 23-year-old brother Oral went into the reserves, and with him, many other people I know, teachers, and adults from the movement, and with each of them, my level of concern and fear increased. While I am writing the article, the number of dead has risen to at least 1,200 people. I am at home with my family, afraid for the people I know; I am afraid for the soldiers, babies, adults, and young people who were kidnapped who are missing and share in the grief of the families whose loved ones are gone.

Another update that is happening at the time of writing this message is that dozens of hostile aircraft (drones) invaded Israel's territory from Lebanon with the help of Hezbollah; these aircraft have explosives and are remotely controlled. This case opens a second front, and it is with Lebanon; the United States sent two fleets of aircraft carriers. For Israel, this force is intended as a warning, and also, in case of intervention, it is the largest force that has ever been in the Middle East, and Israel's hope is that it will help end the terrorist organizations.

I will stop the article now because I have a lot more to say and what to share, but I want to say this: share and protect Israel. There is a lot of antisemitism in the world, and our goal is to protect not only from the physical side but also from the psychological side. So I am begging you to help my country.

Eliya Liam Hajjaj is an Aleph from Be’er Sheva Nahal Eshan, Israel and is in Maccabi Tzair.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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