Shimon Peres honoré.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
After hosting some 50 children from the Gaza Strip region at what was dubbed the “Peres Summer Camp,” President Shimon Peres turned to local and foreign journalists querying what he was supposed to tell these children when they asked why Hamas was shooting at them.
He had no explanation, he said.
“The best I can tell them is that we’re trying to get a cease-fire.”
Peres said he could see no purpose in what Hamas is doing, and stated that Hamas is perpetrating greater harm upon its own people than on Israel.
“We must put an end to it and open a new page,” he said.
However, the situation is complex, he acknowledged, because there are just too many elements on both sides that must be considered.
The way to bring about a cease-fire is not clear, he said, “but the only fruitful process is peace.”
He said he hoped there would be a cease-fire as soon as possible so that the two sides could sit down to discuss how to move forward.
The cost of not having a cease-fire is too high, he said.
Peres was at a loss to explain why hostilities from Gaza have escalated at a time when Gaza is in bad economic shape and so many people are living in poverty. Its leadership should have concentrated on building up the economy instead of attacking Israel, he said.
No one knows what Gaza’s leadership wants to achieve by putting the lives of its own people at risk, Peres said.
While so many people of influence are advocating restraint on the part of both sides, Peres said all the world leaders with whom he had spoken understood that Israel has a right to defend its citizens.
The idea of hosting a summer camp for youngsters from grades one to six was a spontaneous decision. They were given cookies, cakes, pretzels and popsicles. Clowns Mitz and Pitz were brought in to entertain them. The youngsters seemed to be more interested in Peres than in the clowns, but Peres, after some heavy-duty meetings in the morning chuckled heartily at the clowns’ antics and had to be urged away by senior staff members.
However he did get a chance to chat, sing and dance with his young guests. He told them they were very brave and that he was proud of them. He was particularly enamored with a live performance of a video currently going all over the Internet via Youtube in which children are performing a Color Red rocket-warning alert song composed by a teacher in the South.
The lyrics contain all the rules for what must be done when there is a Color Red, and what the children should do when they emerge from bomb shelters or from beneath classroom tables. It’s a very instructional song aimed at allaying fear, and the children disclosed that they’ve sung it often for the very reason that it was written.