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Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi with soldier in damaged building in 2014..(Photo by: Courtesy)
Welcoming an all-new year
Sadly, we will never get this summer back, and the pain and loss of July and August 2014 will likely remain with us for the rest of our lives.
Earlier this week, I had the honor to usher in the start of the new school year for the students of Sderot in the presence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In that moment, as I looked at the innocence of schoolchildren amid the entourage of our country’s most protected leader, I breathed the deepest sigh of relief that I had allowed myself in nearly two months.

For in that scene I saw the very epitome of Israel’s existence; a bright and committed future combined with the strength and resilience that brought us to that place and time.

Let there be no doubt that the past two months of our lives – particularly for the residents of Sderot and the surrounding regions – have been wholly defined by tension and uncertainty. I fully admit there were times when I feared I would never have the chance to breathe normally while watching children head off to their classes.

The situation was so dire that even when we had the rare privilege of making it through the night without the interruption of sirens, we would always wake without knowing what the day would bring. The sounds of warfare were almost constant and deprived us of all the normalcies that one so longs for during the lazy months of summer.

Indeed, there was no summer of 2014 for the residents of Southern Israel.

This was the summer the word “tunnel” became associated with intense fear.

This was the summer we became experts in differentiating the sound of a rocket impact from one deflected by the Iron Dome.

This was the summer we looked on from our homes and were able to see our soldiers advancing toward Gaza to protect our lives.

This was the summer of Operation Protective Edge.

Sadly, we will never get this summer back, and the pain and loss of July and August 2014 will likely remain with us for the rest of our lives.

Yet, more than a week after the cease-fire was announced, the State of Israel can and should take pride in its accomplishments. Indeed, my military and my government took the prudent steps to defend her citizens. For that they deserve our unmitigated gratitude.

Certainly there will remain debates over whether we ‘won’ this war in the sense of a classic military victory, and the future is far from certain. I fully recognize the fact that we cannot let down our guard. We, the residents of Sderot, live under a constant threat that requires special defenses to remain prepared for every possibility. We will require the continued support of our government and our friends around the world.

The traumas of the past two months, and indeed of the past 14 years, from frequent rocket attacks cannot be healed with even the best-intentioned agreement or policy paper. There is work to be done; businesses, homes and lives to be rebuilt; and we are committed to doing all that is possible to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens.

And while I am forced to acknowledge that the future is uncertain, I also firmly believe that we deserve to hope. Even with the challenges and doubts that surround our current existence, we must recognize that our nation has given us room to believe that a safer tomorrow is possible.

So, as I watched these children and looked upon my prime minister, I welcomed the emotions of optimism and confidence manifested by both. As intent as our enemies may be on our destruction, I am more convinced than ever that the ideals of the modern State of Israel will never be taken from us.

The author is the mayor of Sderot.
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