President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Tuesday 6 November / 28 Cheshvan, met members of the Otef.gaza Instagram page who live in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip, at the President’s Residence. The page, which opened two weeks ago to give expression to their lives as residents of the area, already has 61,100 followers. The members who came to the President’s Residence were May Caspi, Meshi Elmakays, Yam Yefet, Shani Peretz, Lee Cohen and Kim Ovitz who are administrators of the page. The girls were given a tour of the President’s Residence by the visitors’ center that recently opened to the public, and then met with the president for a conversation.

Meshi Elmakays from Kerem Shalom said, “we opened the page after we went on a hike, and we heard that big changes start with little steps. We thought we would have one hundred followers and that that would be amazing.”

The president welcomed the girls to Jerusalem and said, “I am so happy to meet you, the wonderful girls of the Israeli communities around Gaza. You show the world what we have to deal with, and at the same time show that there is someone to take care of us and that we know how to stand tall. Every one of my grandchildren follows you constantly, and that’s really great.”

 

 

 

President told the girls about his childhood in Jerusalem, saying “I also grew up under fire. I was a kid when Jerusalem was under siege when the Etzion Bloc fell when Jordanian shells were fired on us and we asked why things like this were happening. At the same time, we understood that our big brothers and our parents were fighting and we knew that they would make sure that we would get to the situation where we could secure our independence.”

“I understand that it is hard, very hard, to hear the Code Red alert,” said the president, “and that it’s very hard to know that you are going to school but don’t know if the alarm will go off on the way there, or that a shell or a mortar will fall. I understand you and we are all with you in these difficulties and know that you are the ones who ensure that normal daily life can continue in Israel because of your resilience.”

The girls brought one of the terror kites sent from Gaza to the Israeli communities in the area, and the president said, “these kites are supposed to be the dream of every child, playing with them in the breeze. Under Hamas, these toys have become weapons of war. I so hope that weapons go back to being toys soon.”

Photo by Haim Zach, GPO