Gaza border residents prep for Passover amid 'Land Day' tensions

"We made it out of Egypt, we’ll make it through this."

Israeli soldiers stands near a military jeep next to the border fence with the southern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Nirim, Israel February 17, 2018.  (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Israeli soldiers stands near a military jeep next to the border fence with the southern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Nirim, Israel February 17, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Adele Raemer first heard on Channel 2 News that communities near the southern border could be declared closed military zones on Friday and that residents there may be asked to carry guns.
“I don’t own a gun,” said Raemer, who is a veteran English teacher and a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, which is located less than two kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
She was among those who stayed in her home during the 2014 Gaza war. So the possibility of a violent outbreak as a result of Friday’s planned Palestinian march to the fence that separates the Strip from southern Israel has worried her, but has hardly caused her to change her Passover plans.
On Friday night she plans to join other kibbutz families for a communal Seder under a tent, the first one Nirim has held in three years.
“So many people signed up that we ordered a tent,” said Raemer.
Then life on the Gaza border took over.
First, on Sunday, the Iron Dome missile defense system was launched by accident in response to gunfire on the Gaza side of the border.
Three armed Palestinians who inflitrated from Gaza lurking around Kibbutz Ze'elim (Eshkol Regional Council)
Then, on Tuesday, three Palestinians from Gaza managed to cross into Israel and walked to the area of the Tze’elim Army Base. It caused flashbacks to the 2014 Gaza war, and a number of people canceled their outdoor Seder attendance.
People started to worry about what they would do if a warning siren went off during the Seder, she said.
There is also the possibility that tear gas the IDF may shoot at the protesters “could waft over here,” she said.
“You can’t always run away,” said Raemer, a mother of four grown children, who emigrated from New York in 1973. One of her daughters lives on the kibbutz as well, and is on the preparations committee for the Seder.
“I have lived here through the Kassam rockets. We [the people of Israel] made it out of Egypt, we will live through this,” she said.
Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni said he trusts the IDF has the situation under control and will prevent Palestinian marchers from infiltrating into Israel.
People should feel secure visiting the south, and those who live there should feel that it is safe to stay home for the holiday, he said.
Amit Caspi of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom said that for reasons that had nothing to do with the security situation, he decided weeks ago to go up north with his family for the Passover Seder.
But the events of the last week and Friday’s march did make him feel insecure.
Incidents like the Iron Dome malfunction and the infiltration make him lose his trust in the army.
It was just luck that no one was killed as a result of the infiltration, he said.
Friday will be very “intense,” Caspi said, adding that it could get out of hand.
Typically, Caspi said, he is sad to be away from the kibbutz for the holiday. But this time around “I prefer not to be here, because anything could happen.”