In Israel, the population between astonishment and mobilization

In Israel, the population between astonishment and mobilization

Rony was like a second father to me. I met him when I was 13-14 years old. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday by cycling 80 km in the south of Israel. Apparently, he was killed while trying to defend himself with his personal weapon, confides Marie-Lyne Smadja. Rony lived on Kibbutz Beeri, founded in 1946 even before the creation of the Hebrew state. It is one of the most damaged localities after the massacre perpetrated by Hamas in southern Israel on Saturday October 7. Beeri had 1,000 inhabitants; 100 of them – men, women, children, babies – were murdered, sometimes burned, decapitated or dismembered, in their house or garden. Others were taken hostage. Vivian Silver, 74, missing, may be among them. That morning, at 11 a.m., one of his sons received a text message on his phone. “They are in the house,” the message said. Since then, nothing. Vivian, like Rony and many residents of the kibbutzim and villages along the Gaza Strip, was left-wing. Viviane was an activist in the association Women Make Peace, founded by Marie-Lyne Smadja after the 2014 war between Israel and the Gaza Strip. “For the barbarians of Hamas, it doesn’t matter that Rony and Viviane campaigned for peace and sent money to Gaza,” sighs Marie-Lyne.

As we go to press, the massacre of October 7 officially left 1,400 dead, 3,000 injured, and 200 hostages. Nearly 500 bodies remain impossible to identify. Faced with this macabre toll, many Israelis are divided between fear, astonishment and anger. “The fact that they killed people in their own homes created a fear in me that I have never felt in my life. In the street, we don’t know who we meet, who the enemy is,” worries Ofra Toren, 51, who lives in Jerusalem where 40% of the inhabitants are Palestinian.

A before and an after

Also Hierosolymitan, Léa now lives in apnea. Her fiancé, 37 years old, mobilized on October 7, is in a locality near the Gaza Strip, a region that she knows well having herself served at the Kissoufim post, around ten years ago. ‘years. His role was precisely to observe the surroundings of the security barrier to detect any suspicious activity. “On Saturday, the soldiers stationed there were all killed. For me, who had my eye fixed on this border for two years, what happened is totally incomprehensible. In twenty-four hours, this Hamas attack caused more deaths than the Six-Day War in 1967. There will be a before and after October 7. If I survive this war and my partner comes back, I will leave the country. » Like Léa, 360,000 families are waiting for the return of one of their own requisitioned by the army. The reservists all answered the call and even beyond; the mobilization rate is 130%. Number of men over the age limit (variable depending on their unit and whether they are officers or privates) volunteered. Their dean, Ezra Yahin, is 95 years old. He participated in the War of Independence in 1948. His goal: to speak to soldiers to give them strength.

Nicole, 76, lives in Tel Aviv. Originally from Paris, she has lived in Israel for thirty-eight years. She trembles for two of her three grandsons who, at 21 and 23 years old, are doing their military service. “There is always a danger, but there, since the beginning of this tragedy of cruelty reminiscent of Nazism, I have had a knot in my stomach, like all the families in the country. And it’s only just beginning because this war is going to be long. We don’t know precisely where they are or what they are doing, but on the first day, one of them was sent to the south of the country and two of his friends died fighting against the terrorists. »

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