On the Ground Near the Gaza Border

In January, 2005 we drove from Haifa in northern Israel toSha’ar Hanegev, the gateway of the Negev, for our first visit to Kibbutz Or Haner three kilometers from the Gaza border. Expecting semi-arid terrain, we were amazed to see the lush green hillsides and beautiful fields and orchards on land that was so desolate before the Jewish settlers arrived.

Dr. Pitz discussing Quassam rocket damage with manager of Kibbutz Or Haner (Jan. 2005)

Just prior to that visit, a Kassam rocket hit outside the factory on the edge of the kibbutz. Windows were shattered, but no one was injured.

By May of 2006 when we visited again, the situation was more tense. Nine months after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we interviewed a family that had been relocated from Gaza to Or Haner and learned about their struggles to make a new start hoping that their sacrifice would lead to a more peaceful life.

Instead, the early morning “Red Dawn” warnings blared. We listened to the rumbling of artillery shells in nearby Gaza nearly every day. Three days later, when we were relaxing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, we learned that a rocket exploded just behind the row of homes where we were staying. How did the situation get like this? Here’s the story.