Israel facing uncertainty - Yet coping and thriving

The onslaught of projectiles followed the targeted assassination by Israelis of one of Islamic Jihad’s top commanders.

People run to take shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets sounds in Ashkelon  on November 13 (photo credit: REUTERS)
People run to take shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets sounds in Ashkelon on November 13
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One doesn’t have to be a psychology expert to understand that stress levels in Israel have been particularly high in recent weeks. The security threats were highlighted yet again, as more than 400 rockets were sent into the country during a two-day escalation between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Schools were closed, work places as far north as Tel Aviv shut early and thousands of residents were sent racing to shelters, as sirens sounded, warning people of yet more incoming rockets.
Dramatic video footage even showed a projectile landing near a highway as cars drove by, escaping being hit by mere moments. It’s miraculous that no one was killed by the barrage of rockets during those tense two days. The country’s missile defense system – called the Iron Dome – intercepted scores of those missiles and projectiles before they could land inside Israeli territory.
The onslaught of projectiles followed the targeted assassination by Israelis of one of Islamic Jihad’s top commanders. This sparked much debate in the country about the precision planned killings of terror leaders. The subsequent rocket fire was met with recurrent airstrikes by the Israeli army, and leaders vowing to keep targeting terror bases. Days later a ceasefire was reached, but residents on all sides are all too aware of how fragile these agreements can be in a tense and precarious climate like this.
Safety is everything. Children in Israel know that if a siren goes off, they need to run to a shelter. If they are outside, and they can’t get into a building, they know to drop to the ground. They also know that an adult – even a stranger – may help protect them, by lying over them if they are in an open area. It’s the unimaginable fear and stress of a rocket landing nearby, coupled with the knowledge that times like this also unify people. You are part of a shared experience, even if it is terrifying at times. You know you are not alone.
The less obvious stress – ongoing political uncertainty
Sparks of a different sort have meanwhile been flying in the political world. The country is entering a period of unchartered territory. Not only has Israel experienced an unprecedented run of two elections in the space of a few months, there are growing concerns that a third election might be on the cards in early 2020, if the current deadlock isn’t resolved in the coming days.
Technicalities, legal ramifications and political shenanigans aside, the fact that neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz could set up a coalition government in the allotted time they were given seems to have left the country in an emotional slump. Uncertainty in any situation can spark gross speculation, misunderstandings and increase unnecessary tension. It’s an almost underlying stress that seems to dominate most conversations at dinner tables, by the work water cooler and even in line at the Post Office! One can only hope – regardless of one’s political views – that there is a positive outcome soon.
Coping with these stresses
One of the remarkable traits of people in this part of the world, is the determined attitude of perseverance regardless, and people’s ability to continue with daily routines, despite the obvious and less obvious stresses. There is a palpable fighting spirit among people here, a clear desire to keep living and loving life. The threats are real. The fear is justified. And yet, as soon as the all-clear is given, people continue with their daily routines.
It’s also inspiring to see how clear people are in terms of their priorities. The focus is definitely on life, being positive and thriving no matter how tough the circumstances. Perhaps that is the best way to handle some extraordinary stresses. Keep living, keep thriving!
Benita Levin is a television news anchor at international channel i24NEWS


Tags jihad