Live After Quit

‘In Eilat, Israeli Survivors Battle a New Challenge’: Hope is Hard to Come By After October 7th’s Red Sea Resort Disaster

In Eilat, a sleepy tourist resort at the northernmost tip of the Red Sea, hope is in short supply in the wake of the October 7 rocket attack. For months prior, the city had been criticized for its neglect of the safety of its citizens, the administration insisting that the threat of rocket and missile attacks was low. The missiles that flew from the Gaza strip into the city shattered this illusion, leaving in its wake destruction and anxiety that persists to this day. Survivors of the attack, along with their loved ones, have now found themselves in an uncertain situation, much worse than before the attack. The future of their businesses and income is uncertain, due to the lack of tourism and an unprepared government unable to help. The Israeli government has announced monetary reparations, however these fail to address the long-term economic and psychological devastation that families are struggling with. Moreover, the attack and its aftermath have left a deep mental scarring, coupled with inexperience in dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. Despite Eilat’s geographical location, it is very difficult for the families victims of the attack to escape and find solace elsewhere. Psycho-social empowerment programmes by the municipality and assistance from volunteer non-governmental organizations has provided much-needed support. However, there is a need for a long-term support system that can accompany the survivors in their healing process. In light of the spotlight shown on the action by the international community, the government of Israel has responded by launching a bureaucratic “end user protection team” in the city, to detect any signs of distress and offer assistance to the survivors. The team includes a social worker, psychologist and other professionals, they have the capacity to respond to need while having a multidisciplinary approach. This includes offering counselling to the affected families, finding ways to create economic resilience through skills training and employment and building capabilities to help prevent and respond to trauma. These initiatives, even if well-intentioned, may be too little too late for the families in the city who have lost family, friends and their safety. Although the rocket and missile attacks may happen only intermittently, this constant fear of further bombardment has taken its toll on the bereaved. With little relief in sight, it remains to be seen whether or not the resilience of the city and its people will be able to weather the storm.