I was down in Sderot today, nothing special really, just catching up on some work when I decided to wander towards the border with Gaza behind Kibbutz Nir Am. Perhaps it is all the Gilad Shalit talk in the news since today marks 4 years since the Hamas bastard terrorists collectively punished our entire country by kidnapping Gilad. Yes, while the world accuses Israel of collective punishment, Israel is such a small country and we are really all one family, that when one of our soldiers is in trouble I truly believe that it is "collective punishment" for our entire country.
Anyway, about 100 yards from the border I stopped at a very moving and emotional lookout point over Gaza. This lookout point was dedicated by a family that lost their son in the infamous Israeli army helicopter tragedy back in 1997, in which he along with 72 other Israeli servicemen and women lost thier lives. This soldier's name was Assaf Siboni and in his memory his parents constructed 20 windchimes side by side, one for each year of his life. Now since Gaza is on the water (you can actually see the ocean from the lookout), it is very windy up there and the chimes are constantly banging into one another causing an almost haunting sound.
For me it was just very emotional. Sitting atop a hill overlooking Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiyah, the ocean, the places where Jewish communities once stood in Northern Gaza, all with Gilad Shalit on my mind.
I wonder how many people come to this spot, let alone know it exists. It is so close to Gaza, that the only movement in the area, other than the many birds of Israel, are army vehicles patrolling up and down the border. I was there alone, thinking of Gilad and wondering how he must have felt standing in a spot not that far from where I stood when he was brutally stripped of his freedom.
Don't get me wrong, I am not at all in favor of releasing Hamas prisoners with blood on their hands to free Gilad, nor do I judge his parents for doing everything in their power to have him released, but standing on that hill perhaps only a few miles from where he is, being held against his will, and listening to those windchimes banging into one another was a pretty emotional roller coaster for me.
After a few minutes of reflection, I got back in my car and headed back home to Jerusalem traveling through the almost entirely fortified town of Sderot. While things have been quiet there of late (aside from about 10 mortars fired over the weekend - yes, that is still relatively quiet compared to recent years), I have no doubt seeing all of the shelters being built in Sderot, that the next round of war is just around the corner.
Memorial plaque for Assaf Siboni Z'L
20 wind chimes in memory of Assaf Siboni Z'L