By Idan Vinitsky
Note: Idan Vinitsky wrote for the Londonderry Times for nearly two years while living in the US. He has written to share his thoughts on the current situation he and his family face in Israel where he currently resides.
Saturday, Oct. 7, began like any Saturday for me in the past year. I woke up around 5:45 a.m., got on my bike and rode about 10 miles to the Mediterranean Sea. The “Shabat” morning quiet, the great air, the view of the sea. It really helps you relax and gain energy before another busy week begins. As part of my bike-riding routine, when I get to the shore, I sit for 15-minutes, breathe, then ride back home. But on the morning of Oct. 7, those 15-minutes became 10-seconds. “WHERE ARE YOU? THERE WAS A SIREN,” yelled my scared wife into the telephone, seconds after she ran with our two young kids to the building’s shelter.
Unfortunately, this is the reality in Israel. Every building and house has a shelter, the result of many years and many “rounds” of bombing between us and our neighbors, sometimes from the north and mostly from the Gaza Strip. We are so used to it, that a 6:30 a.m. siren didn’t feel like a big deal to me as I was riding back home. But this one was different, as my broken heart was about to find out. At 6:30 a.m., in a planned and surprising attack, over 2,000 Hamas terrorists crossed the border from Gaza and invaded Israel. Some of them located a nearby music festival and started shooting at its participants. About 300 people were murdered, some were tourists from around the world, including the U.S. Other terrorists headed to the kibbutzim, Israel’s version of the countryside. There, they entered homes and began butchering people. Families tied together and burned alive. Babies beheaded. 80-year-old people kidnapped into Gaza. Crimes against humanity. This was the kickoff for “The Gaza War,” as they call it now. Ever since, Israel was able to gain control of the situation and launch a massive attack on Hamas. It’s sad to say, but we know that innocents are killed and injured on the other side as well. But what can we do? This is a war on our existence here. After the holocaust we said “never again”. We built a country, the only Jewish country, and Hamas reminded us on that horrible morning that we can never be too protected. We must always defend ourselves. At the moment, this includes fighting and trying to eliminate Hamas. We’ll do whatever it takes. I lived in Boston for two years, between 2017 and 2019. In that time-span, I was lucky to work for the Londonderry Times and get to know in-person your lovely community (I even included the Mack Plaque in my book!). Eventually, we came back home, to Israel, because there is no place like home. Someone is attempting to make us leave our home, or kill us if we decide to stay and fight. I’m sure you see in the media arguments for both sides, and as a left-wing person, I’d love to see a Palestinian state one day. I think they deserve it. But it cannot be achieved this way, with ISIS-like terrorists running their show. So to you, the great people of Londonderry, I just have one request: Stand With Israel!