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Israelis Reach Out to Southerners Under Rocket Attack

A ceasefire hopefully marking the end of the latest round of violence on the Gaza border came into effect on Monday morning, giving relief to Israelis under attack from hundreds of rockets launched into the south of the country over the weekend.

While schools in the south are now open again allowing 210,000 affected children to go back into the classroom, and people are gradually going back to their regular routines, the weekend saw many residents stuck in safe rooms or trying to find respite farther from the border as a barrage of 690 missiles hit southern Israel killing four people, injuring hundreds, and destroying many properties.

Respite was provided largely by cities, municipalities, organizations and private citizens, which all tried to alleviate the suffering and anxiety of their fellow countrymen and women.

Up north, for example, the city of Haifa set up a call center to coordinate between local host families and southern families wishing to spend the night up north. It was joined by the city halls of the neighboring Krayot, as well as by the central city of Rishon LeZion, and even small communities like Nirit, which hosted teenagers from Scouts groups in the south.

Jerusalem City Hall invited Israelis living within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the Gaza border to visit many cultural sites free of charge over the weekend. These included the Israel Museum, Bible Lands Museum and Bloomfield Science Museum, as well as the Jerusalem Cinematheque and many other theaters. Local dance companies Vertigo and Jerusalem Dance Theater offered free dance classes to southern residents.

In a similar manner, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority opened its nature reserves and campsites for free to residents of communities on the Gaza border, as did the Sea of Galilee authorities.

Private citizens also reached out en masse to their southern neighbors, inviting them to spend the weekend at their homes out of the rockets’ range.

Social networks were full of such individual offers, showing how the whole of Israel came together to help out those under attack.

[Photo: Israel21c]