Hamas, Gaza, and Israel
Israelis are blessed with the innate ability to forget. Life goes on as usual. Babies are born. Houses are constructed. Businesses are started. Few think of the Operation Edge war from last summer. For fifty days in July and August 2014, Israel was faced with a bombardment of missiles from Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Gaza borders on it’s east with a dozen Israeli Kibbutzim and villages on the southwestern flank of the country. These areas were under constant barrage during the military operation, and saddled with Israeli army makeshift fortifications and gathering points.
Hamas sits on the other side of the border, sometimes just a few hundred meters (approx. one US city block) away from Israeli army groupings. It’s been reported by agricultural workers on the Israeli side that Hamas military scouts stand on jeeps just on the other side of the border with field glasses in hand.
Isis, Al-Qaydah, Hezbollah, and Syria
On the other side of the country, Israel shares its Northeastern border, The Golan Heights, with its sworn enemy Syria. The Golan Heights, rocks strewn from volcanic ash, includes tens of kilometers of beautiful green mountainous and forested area, ripe with Apple orchards, cattle grazing, hiking areas, and even a ski resort at the top of the Hermon Mountain range.
This pastoral, idyllic sanctuary for some, rests just minutes from the Syrian border and 1967 armistice lines. The rebellion in Syria, and the incessant fighting, which has been wreaking havoc on its civilian population for over two years, has in recent months reached the border town of Kuneitra.
The Syrian border town of Kuneitra, according to some military observers, actually consists of hollowed out shells, many left from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and Syrian military installations. The latter fact leads all rebellious roads to Kuneitra. In recent months, Kuneitra has changed hands more times than a quick-change artist could ever aspire.
Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah, Al-Qaydah backed sunni rebels, Isis – Salafi sunnis, and of course, Syrian Alawis, are all vying for that small strip of land. Occasionally, the bullets fly into the no-man’s land that separates Israel and Syria, and Israel responds. The dotted line on the map shows the armistice lines and Israel’s border with Israel.
It’s sometimes hard to comprehend just how close all this fighting going-on is to Israeli civilian areas. Looking at this map puts things in to perspective. Israeli civilian populations sit in some cases, less than two miles from hostile armies. The proximity to danger and the continuation of life as normal in the tiny spaces of Israel is nothing short of a continuous miracle.