Thursday, August 30, 2007

A message by Eitan Oved

Dear Friends

Greetings to you all.

Today, one year after the Second Lebanese War, the Tiberias Foreign Affairs committee is launching on the web site a collection of photographs of the events that took place during the war in an attempt to share with you the experiences that began July 17th, 2006.

The war struck us "like lightening on a sunny day" as we say in Hebrew. It was the midst of the tourism season, hundreds of 120 & 240 millimeters Katyusha rockets, loaded with dozens of thousands of deadly steel marbles, hit the city, landing in densely populated areas, hitting the beaches of the lake near the hotels area. This happened without any warning, around noon on Saturday, while the city was bustling with thousands of tourists and vacationers from Israel and abroad who have come to enjoy a summer holiday in the city and on the lake.

The shock and the horror were immediately apparent with a quick stream of visitors escaping the city to the south of the country as far as possible from Tiberias. The first rocket strike was just the beginning of the next 33 days to come. Tiberias was hit accurately with over 300 missiles falling, causing destruction of residential, commercial and public buildings, as well as roads, forests and fields which began burning leaving a smoking city. The city became a battle field where the soldiers are the families, the women and children, who have become warriors at the frontier of the state of Israel over night.

The city administration, lead by the Mayor and the Security committee in collaboration with the armed forces, the rescue services quickly took charge, a special secured commanding headquarters was set up in the municipality building. This headquarters coordinated the actions of all the emergency and rescue services and forces. Surely, our vicious enemies continued shooting missiles at us. This continued leaving physical and mental marks of terror on the residents of Tiberias as well as on its buildings. The fear of loosing ones life turned the town in to a ghost town, smoke from the burning fields, shut down businesses, not a soul on the streets, sirens sounding. This was the stage on which the brave emergency and rescue services operated, locating the hits, finding and rescuing the wounded, dismantling unexploded rockets.

The municipal management quickly took charge, dividing the town into zones, opening emergency lines dispatching assistance for any urgent matter, food and supply storages distributed food and water and the security forces treated any call for help from families, women, elderly, the ill and the lonely, all those who suffered the most.

It was on the very first Saturday, the municipal management gathered at the headquarters representatives from the police, the military, the fire brigade, the red Magen David and hundreds of volunteers were recruited for provision of close treatment and assistance to families from low socio-economic background, concentrated in the public shelters. The municipality with its different departments distributed food, organized educational and fun activities for the children in the shelters, providing emergency psychological care for those in distress. Later, the municipal services also provided bussing for children, youth and families to safer areas. Tens and hundreds of volunteers from Israel and from abroad offered support and services. Some came to Tiberias in a wonderful and courageous show of support, some donated emergency equipment, dry foods, games, donations for the purchase of goods. But most importantly, the love, care and support we received as we stood in our fight.

34 days of standing on the frontline, the city and its residents, women, children and elderly, became brave warriors when choosing to continue life in the city. The mayor, leading the headquarters, managed to keep a strong home-front proving to our bitter enemies that we have no other country but the state of Israel and that is why we will continue preserving our rich Jewish legacy which we are so proud of.

During the past year, we set up emergency teams, designated team leaders, scripted emergency commands, conducted surprise exercises, purchase emergency equipment, bomb shelters were renovated and brought up to date. But still much work is still ahead of us and time is running out. Our resources are running out and more is still missing, one that is meant to save lives.

Dear friends, as one who is in charge of the management and command of the municipal emergency and security services together with the Mayor and the municipal teams, I am presenting to you this realistic and accurate outline of events and status one year later. We will be more than happy to continue and update you on the good times as well as the bad times. Our city gates are always open for you.
Eitan Oved, Councilman
Chair of the Security Committee
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee