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Jewish Journal

The Israel-Gaza conflict through the eyes of a teen

by Shiran Katsnelson

August 4, 2014 | 11:52 am

<em>Israeli soldiers clear debris after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in Ashdod on July 15. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters</em>

Israeli soldiers clear debris after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in Ashdod on July 15. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

My name is Shiran, I'm 17 and I live in Israel, in a city named Ashdod. Although summer vacation has started a month ago, I'm closed in my home, instead of going to the beach or meet with friends. Not because I did something wrong, but because I'm an Israeli Jew.

In the 21st century, even in Israel, there is a constant danger of Jewish people's lives. Every few months, 5 million Israelis shut themselves in their homes because of rockets, which launched from Gaza by terrorist organizations like Hamas. This isn't a movie script, but a reality of life. You take a risk if you go shopping, meet with friends or go to the beach, because at any moment the Palestinians can launch missiles over your city and you will have only 15 seconds to run for your life. The city where I live, Ashdod,  is under missiles attacks since I was 12. Since I was 8, I read newspaper every day, because in Israel it's very difficult not to have knowledgeable about politics and security.

The summer vacation has started and this is the time to meet with friends, play tennis or watch the World Cup at a restaurant like any teenager in the Western world.  But I have to stay at home and give up the pleasures of the vacation. I waited for the moment when the summer vacation will start, but all plans were disrupted. Very simple things like sleeping in your room and not next to shelter, or taking a shower any time you want are almost impossible. Hamas launches rockets to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel's biggest cities. Imagine that New York and Los Angeles were under similar attack. What would you do?

Why is this happening? Because after 6 million Jews were brutally killed in the Holocaust, Jews got a country. Just little one in this huge world. The United Nations decided after the Holocaust that Jewish people deserve a state of its own. The Palestinians didn't like the decision, so 66 years they're trying to harm us in any possible way, such as: kidnapping and launching missiles toward innocent civilians. What have I, Shiran, done to the Palestinians? Did I hurt someone? Why every few months they launch rockets to kill innocent Israelis, including me? I wasn't born to live in danger. I was born to live just like any German, British and Canadian teenager. I'm not different.

I tried to contact with Palestinian teenagers my age, in order to understand how they see the conflict and if they believe that may be a soul-friendship between Israeli and Palestinian, but as soon as I wrote that I'm Jewish who lives in Israel, they wrote horrible things, praised Hitler and sent fake images of massacres in Syria and Iraq in order to say that they were photographed in Gaza. I thought that the chance for peace will come from the Palestinian people itself, but they believe the lies of Hamas. I was disappointed to discover that the hatred towards Jews is rooted in their blood.

There is one thing I'm sure about: As long as terrorist organizations, calling for the destruction of Israel and Jews around the world, will not disappear, peace won't come. While the IDF is working for peace, a lot of people still confident that the IDF does crimes. If  Russia were in this situation instead of Israel, Gaza would deleted completely. But the IDF, unlike the Red Army in his wars against Chechnya, does his best to kill terrorists only. Gaza is the most crowded place in the world, so the chance to hurt only criminals is very slim. In addition, Hamas launch the rockets from civilian neighborhoods. Palestinian terrorists launch rockets near schools, kindergartens, mosques and buildings in Gaza. The reason that on our side there a low number of deaths is because we have a defense system, the "Iron Dome". The number of casualties could reach 200 if the "Iron Dome" were not exist. One more fact is that Hamas hides behind Palestinian civilians instead of protecting them. Our army does all it can to protect us, as well as my life. Hamas cares about our death more than about the Palestinian's lives. With the current Palestinian government, which including Hamas, it will be impossible to achieve peace.

My family lived in Europe during the Holocaust, and many of my relatives were killed. Even after the Holocaust there was a metaphorical border between Jews and Christians. After 40 years, my family decided that our home is in Israel, despite of all the difficulties. I'm, Shiran Katsnelson, proud and happy to be a Jew who lives in Israel, although I'm a target of the Palestinians. I will continue to pray for peace. This is the time to understand that the 21st century is here, and religion is no more at the center of attention as it was. This is the time to consolidate feelings about people just because of who they really are and not because of their religion or origin.


To contact Shiran Katsnelson, email him at shirankatsnelson@gmail.com.

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