After spending days under fire, rushing to bomb shelters, constantly on edge awaiting the next Red Alert siren, kids from towns bordering the Gaza Strip finally had a bit of reprieve.
This week, amidst the tenuous announcement of a ceasefire, a group of young Dror Israel educators took action to help children from the impacted region. The educators, who work with local educational and community institutions as part of their army service, arranged for teens from HaNoar HaOved youth movement branches in Israel’s south to have a fun and relaxing break.
Through close coordination and partnership between the branch directors and local municipality, they were hosted by teens from HaNoar HaOved branches in the northern Carmiel region. Even without knowing them personally, the northern teens chose to open their branch and their homes to their southern counterparts, warmly welcoming them to enjoy a safe break. After getting to know one another, they went rock climbing at a local adventure park, had a swim in a nearby pool, sat together for shared discussions and enjoyed meals cooked by local families. Over the course of two days, the teens from the Gaza area had a chance to make new friends, experience warm and inviting hospitality, and have a break from the tense and scary experience of constant rocket fire.
Throughout Operation Breaking Dawn, hundreds of rockets rained down on Israel. While most were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, they posed a real and ongoing threat for southern towns in close range of the Gaza Strip. With only 15-30 seconds to run to a bomb shelter, the local residents were on constant alert throughout the operation, always ready to drop everything and seek cover.
Children and teens are particularly affected by the fear and traumatic impact of rocket fire, often suffering long term psychological consequences. Dror Israel’s educators in the Sderot and Ashkelon regions work year round in partnership with local municipalities creating frameworks to address this communal trauma and to provide safe spaces for children.