‘Nobody really knew what happened or what would happen next’: Israeli farmers recall the tense moments during Hezbollah’s attack

September 3, 2019 by Arye Green -TPS
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The children at Kibbutz Malkiya on the border with Lebanon went to the stable to feed horses on Sunday, on their first day of school, when they were suddenly disturbed by barrages of rockets launched by Hezbollah terrorists from across the border.

The terrorists fired several anti-tank rockets at an army vehicle and base near Avivim, a nearby Kibbutz.

Boaz Perry, a farmer in Malkiya who was with the children at the time of the attack, scrambled to get them to shelter. In a conversation with TPS, he said the residents were resilient and expressed confidence that the IDF will successfully ward off future attacks.

“We heard loud explosions and saw the thick smoke from Avivim. Nobody really knew what happened or what would happen next. However, after a little while, we saw the fighting wasn’t spreading and presumed the worst is behind us,” he said.

Despite the feeling of relief felt by the residents when they found out there were no Israeli casualties, many are still concerned about s possible further escalation.

“There is still a large military presence in the area, and there are still some paths near the border which are closed to farmers,” said Boaz.

He also said they could not harvest the grapes at night, as they usually do, because of possible sniper attacks. “Missing the harvest by one night can be extremely costly,” he warned.

However, “no worker has yet to leave or quit due to the tensions,” Boaz said, hoping all will return to normal as soon as possible.

Shai Golani is also a farmer in Malkiya, in charge of vast orchards surrounding the Kibbutz, some of which are located mere meters away from the border fence.

In a conversation with TPS, Shai said he was at the orchard during the attack and was eventually asked, along with other farmers, to leave the orchards for safer positions.

“Despite yesterday’s events, we are already able to pick apples at the orchards,” Shai said, stressing the importance of the agricultural work at this time, “we are about to start picking the apples from the orchards, this is when all the hard work pays off.”

The coming month is particularly important, ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when it is customary to dip an apple in honey, and the demand for apples spikes across Israel.

As for his family, Shai told TPS they are used to periodic disturbances of the quiet pastoral landscape, and they were not startled.

“My girls are now teenagers; we didn’t really feel like it was something that hasn’t happened before. Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the events were relatively on a smaller scale, and this seemed to be no different,” he said.

At the height of the agricultural picking season, Shai seems confident things will remain calm for the time being.

“Until the elections in mid-September, I think nothing too serious will happen. No one has an interest in escalating the situation. Hezbollah knows that a war would politically benefit their foes, so they are unlikely to escalate further before the elections. After that, only God knows,” he summarized. 

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