Residents of Winnipeg who have family members in Israel and the Palestinian territories are filled with anxiety as the conflict between Hamas and Israel intensifies. Meanwhile, a former resident of Winnipeg is currently involved in organizing provisions for soldiers who are being deployed to the war zone.
According to officials from both sides, the ongoing war, which began four days ago, has resulted in a minimum of 1,900 fatalities by Tuesday afternoon. This marks a significant event for Israel, as gunfights erupted in their towns after many years, while Gaza witnessed the destruction of its neighborhoods, leaving them in ruins.
Amidst the conflict, former Winnipegger Jenni Menashge is in northern Israel helping gather supplies soldiers heading to the front lines while reassuring family back home in Canada they are safe — for now.
“I continuously emphasize that we are physically unharmed, meaning we are still alive. No one has lost a limb or been shot. However, emotionally, this is a state of shock,” she expressed.
“We are all operating in a state of shock, and everyone is doing whatever they are capable of.”
Menashge was at synagogue Saturday when the attacks began. Outside, she could see missiles stop midair as they ran into Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.
“And there was one, followed by another one, and then yet another one, leaving us puzzled, questioning what was happening.”
She stated that as the country is currently engaged in a war, individuals who had previously served in the military are being summoned to participate in the conflict, resulting in them leaving their families and jobs behind. This situation has compelled members of the community to take on additional responsibilities in order to maintain essential services.
Menashge mentioned that her husband and three of her sons went to arrange products on the shelves at their nearby grocery store.
“It is a situation where every individual, regardless of gender or age, is putting in their best effort.”
Menashge’s son, like numerous Israeli families, has been summoned for combat duty, while her daughter is also actively serving in the military. In a brief span, the military mobilized 300,000 reservists.
“Our army is our family, so every single soldier, my son, my daughter and everybody else, they’re my kids. And that’s really how people feel here.”
“There is nowhere for them to seek refuge.”
Rana Abdullah, the founder of the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba, was in London celebrating her daughter’s wedding when the conflict arose during the weekend.
She expressed that the news transformed her tears of joy into tears of sorrow.
She expressed that it was extremely impressive and breathtaking.
“You’re glued to the news, unable to break away, desperately seeking a ray of hope that the situation won’t deteriorate further.”
Abdullah was born in Kuwait after her family escaped from the West Bank during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, yet she maintains strong connections to the area and has many dear ones residing there.
She mentioned that over the weekend, a family she is acquainted with suffered a loss of 18 individuals in a single airstrike in Gaza.
“How can it be justified to subject completely innocent people, who have no involvement in politics, to collective punishment?”
She stated that the remaining individuals are experiencing a dreadful predicament without any assistance or escape options.
She expressed concern that individuals may be losing hope due to enduring years of oppression and violence.
“When you contact them, they assure you not to be concerned about them as they are already deceased.”
Ramsey Zeid, the present president of the Palestinian association, expresses concern for his family residing in the West Bank about the potential escalation of the conflict affecting their area.
“People are uncertain about the future, thus preparing themselves for a challenging period ahead.”
He expresses concern about the potential limitations on their access to food and medicine, as well as their ability to depart if necessary.
“He mentioned that many individuals would be unable to depart even if they desired to do so,” he stated, further noting that navigating through Israel can be challenging even under normal circumstances, often necessitating specific permits and encounters with checkpoints.
He expressed concerns about the potential closure of borders to neighboring countries such as Egypt, which could result in them being unable to leave.
“There is simply no place for them to go.”
My nephew was very close to being fatally injured at the festival.
In recent days, Avrom Charach has been staying in touch with his family and friends residing in Israel, receiving distressing updates that no one should have to hear.
Fortunately, his close relatives are alive and well. However, one of his nephews narrowly avoided the assault at the Supernova music festival on Saturday morning.
Charach mentioned that his nephew was on his way to the festival where he had a performance scheduled, but he began hearing the sound of missiles.
“And thus, he and his fiancée decided to retreat and seek refuge at a distant kibbutz. Fortunately, they were unharmed, and they sought shelter with his fiancée’s family.”
Charach mentioned that he is currently attempting to comprehend the magnitude of the loss.
“He said that typically, when something occurs in Israel, he doesn’t give it much thought due to his family’s presence there and the tendency for things to be exaggerated. However, in this case, it is not an exaggeration.”
“You can’t even talk about proportion.”