“Not in my name and not for my security” (Nomika Zion)
Ongoing attacks – ten to sixty rockets a day
Because of its location close to the Gaza border, the Israeli town Sderot suffered ongoing attacks with Qassam rockets over the last years. “I tell you”, Nomika Zion, co-founder of the local grassroots organization “Another Voice” explained, “it is easier to deal with a three weeks war than with this permament unsecurity.” She was reffering to thousands of people in the community who got traumatized, depressed or suffered shocks and anxieties, because of the stress and the ongoing attacks.
The worst time was between 2006 and 2009 when about ten to sixty rockets a day hit the area. Six Israelis died, several got injured. The Qassam rockets do not have a high explosive effect and only hit random targets. There main effect is the emotional and psychological impact. There are only a couple of seconds to find a shelter when the alert signal – a recorded voice saying “colour red” – is issued. “Its the daily dilemma”, Nomika said, while as an example descriping the situation of school bus drivers and others working with children, “whose child am I going to protect first?”
Finding “Another Voice”
Even so she experienced these daily attacks and the daily suffering in her local community, Nomika became increasingly woried about the overal attitude of Israel towards the Palestinians. As a result of the increased separation between both sides, she thinks, “People in Israel became in general more and more extreem towards Palestinians.”
Promoting instead non-violent actions and the development of peacefull relationships between those living in Israel, especially Sderot, and the Gaza Strip, was the reason for the founding of “Another Voice”. It was founded in January 2008 right after the begin of Israels operation “cast lead” in Gaza. One of the most dificult times in her life, as Nomika explained.
“Help us, we are human beings after all”
The operation lasted about three weeks and resulted in more than 1.400 Palestinian casualties. During the time Israel was basically bombing the Gaza Strip 24 hours a day. Nomika descriped her worries about Palestinian friends living in Gaza and her shock of hearing reactions from fellow citizens in Sderot, describing the sound of the bombs as “the most beautifull music, ever heard”.
It was very difficult for her, she said, “to contain all the different sides.” Knowing about the suffering in her community and at the same time calling friends in Gaza, witnessing their suffering under the ongoing Israeli attacks or receiving for example and email from a 14-year-old girl, whose school was bombed and whose classmate was killed, who wrote “Help us, we are human beings after all”.
Her opposition against “the current bloodbath in Gaza” led to the puplication of the article “Not in my name and not for my security”, in which she criticized the violent policy of her state of and the ignorance over the Palestinian suffering. At the same time she promoted to “lay down a human route to the hearts of our neighbors” and to build “bridges of human gestures” instead of “senseless cycle of bloodshed.”
“Not a single, but a silenced voice”
Today after the end of the war the region is relatively quiet. There are only a few single rockets comming every month or so. The Israeli forces conduct operations in irregular intervalls and keep their siege of Gaza, leading to an ongoing pressure and extremly difficult situation for the civilians in the Gaza Strip.
“Another Voice” counts about sixty members today and engages primarly in supporting groups, advocacy work and especially in mantaining relations to people in Gaza. Bevore they started their work, Nomika described “she felt very isolated”. But by now she realized after they got a lot of positive feeback that they were “not a single, but a silenced voice.”