Southern Residents: They call us cry babies, and it's outrageous

"Let them understand that one is not supposed to get used to this reality. You cannot get used to something like this," says Einav Carmi.

Sderot residents protest against ceasefire.  (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)
Sderot residents protest against ceasefire.
(photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)
The viral video of Einav Carmi from Kibbutz Nir Am, in which she documented herself during a rocket siren and exposed the anxiety that residents of the Gaza vicinity face under the threat of mortar shells and rockets, has become apparent in recent days.
It was impossible to remain indifferent to the feelings, voices and fears that emanated from her, and made it clear that this is how reality appears in a combat zone.
"I still have not digested the effect, the power of it, but it's fun," 25-year-old Carmi told Maariv. "If I did something good, I'm pleased. The personal exposure - I was seen all over the world in a bed with pajamas - does not bother me, because for me it is a mission. It's important for me to disseminate everything that's going on here. Let them understand that one is not supposed to get used to this reality. You cannot get used to something like this. "
Carmi said she has been active for years. She records her life with Facebook and Instagram when there are rockets in the sky, as rocket sirens sound in the background and documents the fields burned in the acts of balloon and kite terrorism. As far as she is concerned, this is an informational tool.
"In the last rounds I filmed myself running to the safe room while I was the alarm sounded," she continued. "There are also videos in which we found ourselves outside. I write about the situation, about my feelings, about the feelings of others... I express the frustration and anger and also ask that they [politicians] continue to embrace us. It's important for me to write about the soldiers, who are going through hell themselves."
Along with thousands of encouraging comments, Karmi also encountered a negative attitude. "I received a lot of good responses," she said, "from Argentina, Russia, Spain and other countries. What they wrote strengthened me and they said that they stand by Israel. But social network is packed with a lot of antisemites, and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions supporters, and there were shocking, terrible reactions. I ignored it. The reactions from home [Israel] are the ones hurt me, saying 'You have to leave,' 'She's leftist, she deserves it.'
"I'm not a leftist and do not think I deserve it," Carmi emphasized. "We are all residents of one state. It's not pleasant to hear it from the people who are not supposed to hurt you. "
Carmi is currently writing a book about the women in the region during Operation Protective Edge; how they have been going on for years under the threat of Hamas. "I would like someone from the government to speak with me, turn to me" she said. "The Foreign Ministry only asked permission to use the video. I want to represent the painful South, the good and its suffering, which is hard to understand without living testimonies from the field."
Carmi is not the only one who documents her life in the Gaza envelope, during and between the rounds of violence. Many social network activists, with thousands of followers, use this platform to present their situation on the outside.
Yifat Ben-Shushan, a resident of Nativ Ha'asara, has been doing this for years. In 2012, before Operation Pillar of Defense, she pointed her hand out of the safe room and recorded how 70 missiles were launched that morning into southern Israel.
"This is the video that woke me up [about the situation]," she said. "I was with the children at home and decided it was inconceivable that they would not understand what was happening here. I wanted to show them the madness. I risked it, but I had to do it. For 20 minutes you hear the booms. Four houses were hit that morning. You can see in the video how my hand is shaking. When it was over, I uploaded the video to YouTube."
Today she is also active on social networks: writing, responding, screaming, and presenting the daily life on the Gaza border. "I'm also in talks with journalists and politicians," she said. "This week, for example, a man - a rightist - published a post in which he claimed that 500 left-wing kibbutzniks had demonstrated against Netanyahu. Because I myself was at the demonstration, I immediately uploaded pictures of demonstrators wearing kippah's. I also posted pictures from another demonstration, in Sderot, where tires were torched. I wrote that there is no leftist or kibbutznik there, and that I myself am not a leftist and I was there. "
Ben-Shushan explained that at the time, "Bibi did not come to us and did not tell us, but he had time to pose for a video and talk to the citizens of Iran. It really annoyed me that my prime minister has time to talk to Iranian citizens and has no time to talk to residents whose land is being burned. I wrote: 'How would I like to wake up this morning as an Iranian citizen? I have one request, Bibi, come have a selfie with me?' Netanyahu's supporters were against me, my Tel Aviv friends stood by me, and everyone quarreled with everyone. It was crazy. "
She believes that social networks serve as a psychologist for many. Last year she initiated a connection between the virtual and the reality. "After a few nights of rocket fire, I was fed up and decided to do something," she said.
"I brought up a post and invited people to my home, anyone who wanted to come and experience things up close, and more than 50 people came to me from all over the country," Ben-Shushan added.
Ronit Ifergan, 45, came to Kibbutz Kfar Aza from Holon a decade ago. She and her husband were students at Sapir College and decided, after school, to move to the South.
"Our activity has nothing to do with a social agenda or a moral idea, but with real life," she explained. "You get up in the morning and run away from missiles. We do not stop the news because of us, but when there's a rocket on the Dan bloc or on the Sharon, then yes. So we bring the voices and sights to the network and hold a meaningful dialogue. "
Ifergan, a director by profession, runs the "People with the South" group and is a member of groups such as "The Residents of the South Will Not Be Silent," "Movement for the Future of the Negev", "Modern Kibbutzniks" and "Qassam Generation."
"We are posting posts, videos of demonstrations and fires, in real time," she explained. "For example, 'Now a balloon has fallen,' 'Fire here or here.' Everything that happens throughout the day and night. Mother's texts are also raised: feelings, thoughts. Everything that passes the real situation. "
Two weeks ago, Ifergan initiated a network campaign that included videos titled "What is your solution to the situation?" in order to collect testimonies and find solutions. "We asked our residents what it means to live for years under terrorism," she explained. "We received many reactions, including from politicians who want to meet us, but unfortunately no one from the government or the Likud approached us. This happens only in Sderot, where they have seats. "
A year and a half ago, Ifergan participated in "The Song of the Rabbis," which told the story of the fires and the explosives and described the damage caused by the farmers. "We filmed the fires, ran from center to center and recorded everything in the song," she says. "It reached 250,000 views and was distributed worldwide, including in English translation. Network activity creates ads. There is no other way to reach people. "
Meirav Kahan, 46, from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha also revealed her life as a mother of four children growing up in the shadow of Gaza's terrorism. "They called us cry babies, said that the attack on us was minor, and that it was outrageous to me," she says. "It's important for me to pass on the reality here - if the smallest fragment of an explosive balloon, which apparently does not endanger life, harms the child, he goes for it. The danger is daily and palpable. "
She shares the feelings of her and her children, too, from the safe room. For example, she recounted how her daughter went to bed crying, got up crying and refused to go to school. "I also wrote quite a few songs and texts that were shared," she said. "For example: 'Too many balloons and two Fajr missiles were fired by mistake. There was a detached government that was mainly busy itself. Whose members have fallen asleep on duty and to the south for years have not arrived.'"
Kahan said she also wrote one poignant sentence that became a whisper: "Remember we played seven boom? Then you'll know that's how it is here. Writers up to seven and boom. I received a lot of reaction from people, people expressed solidarity. It's important that they understand that it's not minor and that there are transparent people her."
Translated by The Jerusalem Post Staff.