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Come to Israel, Greta, and tell the world what you saw

I read the identification you (#GretaThunberg) expressed with Gaza and Hamas, and I feel deep sorrow and pity for your painful blindness. We both live out of an environmental ideology, but while you were in a safe place - my life and the lives of those dear to me were in existential danger. A resident of Kibbutz Nir-Am and an environmentalist writes to climate activist Greta Thunberg

By Shaked Shafi Cohen, Zavit - a news agency for science and the environment

Hello Greta,

We don't know each other personally, but we both share the same ideology - or at least we did until a moment ago. My name is Shaked Shafi Cohen and I am the mother of Yaer Rei, who will celebrate his 4th birthday in two weeks, married to Roni and a member of Kibbutz Nir-Am, in the Gaza Strip. A neighbor of Hamas and the people you support on the one hand, and of the "occupying" city of Sderot on the other.

As a routine, I work around the clock as the vice president of the Israeli Association for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, promoting the agendas that I know and have been leading closely for years, around the important and just environmental struggle. But today I am nothing more than a mother on the run, a refugee in my country, without a home, without security and without air, trying to protect, physically and mentally, my family and myself from the chaos we live in.

I've been living and dying for almost two weeks. A zombie among other zombies. Alone among hundreds of dear people. More horror stories. More missing, more murdered, more funerals. More hollow looks. Still helpless. there's nothing. not words not an emotion. no tears is nothing. Just numbers: over 100 missing, 203 kidnapped - including about 30 children and about 20 elderly people, 301 injured and about 1,400 murdered - many of them friends and acquaintances, from the community where I live. The vast majority of them are citizens.

The photographs of the children who were kidnapped from their homes to Gaza. From the headquarters website of the kidnapped families. #bringthemhomenow
The photographs of the children who were kidnapped from their homes to Gaza. From the headquarters website of the kidnapped families. bringthemhomenow#

Read your words And the identification you expressed with Gaza and Hamas, and I'm not angry, I really am not. Only deep sorrow and pity. Pity for the painful blindness that you and many good people like you are guilty of. Blindness that results from lack of knowledge and reliance on false, misleading, inciting and above all - violent communication based on political and economic motives.

Unfortunately, I don't need to read the newspaper or hear the news and I don't need to check the facts, because I was there and saw it myself. And what I did not experience, my dear brothers and sisters experienced, who still experience 24/7 war and trauma that will stay with us for life.

This time the alarm did not stop

Let me tell you where I was on Saturday October 7th, 2023 at 06:20 AM, and the 17 hours after that cursed hour, while you were in a safe place where your life and the lives of your loved ones were not in existential danger.

I woke up to the sound of a "red color" alarm. This couplet of words is familiar to us, the inhabitants of the envelope; We experience "drips" of rockets as a matter of routine. We are "used to" it. The surrounding alarm is similar to the one in the center of the country, only shorter - 8 seconds pass from the moment it sounds until the rockets start - rockets that do not differentiate between soldiers, women, babies and the elderly. Rockets that are just randomly fired to kill and create terror and terror on my "side".

At this time, of the "red color", we must enter a protected space - the MMD. must I invite you to try to wake up from sleep, take in your arms a small child who is just lying next to you in bed, and run to another room in your house. Actually, I'll save you the experience - it's not possible.

This is how our morning started on October 7th. Very stressful, but there was still hope that in a moment the Iron Dome system would be able to intercept the rockets - a wake up call is nothing, and we will continue soon. Only this time the alarm didn't stop. In less than an hour hundreds of rockets and rockets fired at us. hundreds At the same time there were shots. Lots of shots. We received a chilling message from the kibbutz's emergency team: "There is an infiltration of terrorists, lock yourselves in your houses." and a power outage. No communication. no internet Long hours alone. without protection without an army disconnected. The door of the MMD does not lock from the inside. So we held her. many hours. helplessly Meanwhile, a strong smell of fire began to enter under the door. Roni and I looked at each other in horror and realized - we might end this Shabbat dead.

How do I lie to my child?

I'll cut you short and I'll get to the end, or actually the middle of the nightmare, I'll get to here and now, which has long since lost its grip on time: my family and I got out of hell. We are no longer locked in the MMD between incessant alarms, volleys of gunfire, booms, smoke and a boy who holds my shaking hand too tightly. "Mom and dad are here with you. All is well. All is well".

I no longer peek through the shutter to check if the army has finally arrived or if the kibbutz and we are under the control of terrorists. We no longer run between bunches of Qassams, burned cars, bodies of innocents in the middle of the road and guns drawn, the main thing is not to wake up in the morning kidnapped. fear. Freezing fear. Drive with your foot on the gas until the end. flying Terrified. burning sky

Shaked and Yaar two days before the war
Shaked and Yaar two days before the war

We survived, what a "miracle". But the guilt that we stayed alive does not let up. And we don't live. Everything loses meaning. Security is lost. there's nothing. And around hell in all its ugliness.

I'm waiting to wake up from this nightmare, sweating, with a face bathed in tears, waiting to realize that I had another bad dream. To blow out the horrible scenario I hallucinated and hear - "Come on, Shaktosh, you and your imagination, there are things that simply cannot happen. Calm down."

To get up, look to the side and see Roni and Yaer lying beside me in bed peacefully. To drink water. to settle down. and go back to sleep. In the house that was ours, in Nir-Am. In a place where I promised everyone and myself that it was 99 percent heaven and XNUMX percent hell. And when there is hell then it is a bit difficult, but you ventilate for a few days or weeks somewhere else, and it passes. and back to normal. And reality is stronger than anything. Reality is stronger than anything.

And instead, my kingdom, ours, became 100 percent hell overnight. The ground is omitted. and still

How can I (and can we) look my child in the eyes again and repeat the mantra: "When father and mother are near you, you are always protected." You don't have to fear anything, we've got you covered. Always".

How do we now mediate to our children this reality that is no longer stronger than everything. the crumbling reality. We are crumbling. How do you protect them from finding out that we lied, that we were lied to? Where do you find the strength to keep lying?

dance on the wrong side of the fence

And in those hours when we were besieged at home, while outside there were battles between terrorists and civilians from the ground and the sky, when we didn't know if we would die, be kidnapped or come out of it alive and scarred - other friends of ours were slaughtered, raped and murdered in front of their spouses; Along with the children, babies who were burned with clenched hands. Bodies that no one can still identify because there are not enough organs left.

The late Livnat Kotz, a beloved colleague from my previous workplace, who led the workshop in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, was an artist and entrepreneur, and among other things, "one of our own" - who separates and recycles bottles. She was lying cuddled in the same bed with her husband and their three children when terrorists tried to break the door of the MMD in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Gaza. The terrorists did not succeed, so they set fire to the house and burned them alive.

At the same time, the late Yuval Solomon, a young man full of joy of life who just a few hours before celebrated his birthday at the "Green Pub" in Kibbutz Nir-Am - the bar of my best friend - was also murdered. Hundreds more innocent people were massacred in the various kibbutzim. And not only in the kibbutzim, but also in the big cities. Even at a nature party. The late Ziv Pepa Shapira, the son of Tami, my smiling neighbor from the kibbutz, was also murdered. And all his sin was dancing on the wrong side of the fence.

Come see for yourself

It is you, Greta, who believes in human rights, who dedicates your life to the environment and to advocacy, whose name has been mentioned many times as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize - it is precisely you who must condemn Hamas, an organization that supports the slaughter of innocents, including disadvantaged populations, an organization that has committed countless acts of rape In a few hours, an organization that kidnaps babies.

Many of the people slaughtered in the most horrific ways hell has to offer are simple, innocent, pro-environment people. Be surprised, Greta, many of them even oppose the "occupation" and fight for peace. But this time there is no place for politics, it's not about right versus left, not right versus wrong - but bad versus good. In the dark against the light.

It is from you, Greta, that I urge you to make a distinction between the preoccupation with the rights of those who live in Gaza or the preoccupation with the controversial policy of the Israeli government regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - and the murderous and heinous action of a terrorist organization that does not fall from ISIS or the Nazis, an action that still continues to claim victims.

Our country is bleeding. We are fighting on several fronts - south, north, west and east. But there is another front, which will dramatically affect my life and that of all the citizens of Israel (and yes, also the lives of the citizens in Gaza, who are now under the rule of a terrorist organization that threatens them and probably doesn't leave them too many choices) - the informational front. Your words, Greta, do enormous damage to the State of Israel in general and the environmental movement in particular.

The area of ​​my house is currently designated as a closed military area, but in Bari, in Kfar Gaza, in Nir-Oz, at my neighbors', body parts are still being removed. I'm not allowed to go in there. You, who report to the world, are allowed.

I invite you to get on a flight to Israel, come and visit the burnt houses. See for yourself severed limbs on the sides of the paths. Crushed trees. Flowers that will no longer bloom. A head without a body. shoulder. girl's leg Pacifiers stained with blood. Come see for yourself. Heal the disease of blindness. And tell the world what you saw.

Because I only saw darkness. Darkness over an abyss.

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