The news is so sad. Just after a few days of escalated fighting with hundreds of Palestinian missiles raining down on Israel, then come the Iranian missiles from Syria attacking the Golan Heights. Does Israel just take it? No, they fight back.
Could you live like that? I know I couldn’t, but if you talk to Israelis they will tell you that they have no choice. It’s true. Either try to stop the incessant missiles trying to kill you and your family, or succumb to being a target and victim—and possibly be overrun. This tiny nation surrounded by enemies needs help from its friends.
Since March, after months of hundreds of Palestinian missiles and many incendiary balloons attacking Israel,1 Israel said enough.
Bahaa Abu el-Atta, the leader of the Islamic Jihad, was killed by Israel.2 Hamas was quiet as they are the main competing terrorist organization in Gaza and they wanted to get rid of their competitor Islamic Jihad. Khaled Faraj,3 another brigade commander and others from the Quds radio network were also targeted and killed.
According to CBS News, “Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.”4
After Iranian forces from Syria sent missiles, Israel also attacked a senior Islamic Jihad commander based in Syria.5
Whenever Israel is attacked and goes after perpetrators who continually pummel Israel with missiles, Israel carefully plans the strike to harm as few civilians as possible. They often announce their intention by dropping leaflets and even calling or texting people’s homes. But admittedly, sometimes mistakes are made.
Personally, I abhor violence of any type and grieve that humans hurt one another. Yet what is reported in the news when it comes to Israel often seems like the first part of the story is ignored—they forget to mention the firing of the Palestinian rockets that occurred BEFORE Israel tried to prevent more from being fired.
Immediately Israel hears the outcry from anti-Israel organizations when Palestinian civilians are harmed. Hurting civilians is considered a war crime. Yet the fact that the thousands of Palestinian missiles are aimed and sent toward Israel indiscriminately against all Israeli citizens and always intentionally targeting civilians is ignored. Why is that? Isn’t a Jewish life as valuable as Palestinians and should be protected as well? Where are the protests for the targeting of the Israelis?
The situation is so complicated and cruel with no end in sight. As humans we have so much to learn. Why can’t we all just get along? Retaliation doesn’t work, yet protecting your loved ones is essential. Israel tries to strategically stop the Palestinian rockets and avoid hurting civilians, but there are always more missiles sent. Sadly, this part of the world can’t begin to heal if the violence continues.
When your enemies such as the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas (which rules Gaza) have in their charter the destruction of Israel being replaced by Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,6 and Islamic Jihad (another Palestinian terrorist organization) has the same goal,7 after fighting all of these years, it’s hard not to wonder how Israel continues to stay strong. Then again, what choice do they have? To continue existing, they have no option but to fight back. Peace seems painfully elusive.
A photo of a 5-year old Israeli girl cowering on the floor of their “safe room” (a bomb shelter within their home) went viral.8 Could you imagine raising your kids under these conditions?
Israelis spend days in their bomb shelters—the Jewish National Fund even built one in 2009 that doubles its function as a 21,000-square-foot indoor playground and community center for the children of Sderot. The town is located a mile outside of Gaza and the youngsters living there bear the brunt of frequent rocket attacks. So often you read of the town’s people suffering from P.T.S.D., tormented by constant anxiety and getting hurt running to bomb shelters. Rockets that Iron Dome (Israel’s anti-missile defense system) misses, if they don’t fall in open fields, can injure or kill Israelis or destroy property.
During these time periods of frequent bombings (I’ve never understood exactly when they call it a war), “normal” life is disrupted. As is common procedure, the Israeli Homefront Command cancelled gatherings of 300 or more people at any venue in the region, cancelled school, and strongly recommended that people not go to work if they could avoid it.
It was alarming to me that in researching this article that I discovered bomb shelters aren’t as prevalent as I thought they would be, even five years since our trip. When we were in Israel in July 2014, we ran to bomb shelters six times. In our experience there was always somewhere to hide, perhaps we were just lucky. I remember we were instructed to move once when we were hiding in the stairwell of the hotel and we were thankful to be taken to a room that seemed more protected.
We had been told that Israelis had “safe rooms” in their houses and otherwise ran to bomb shelters in the community. This is true, but not everyone has their own bomb shelter or safe room, nor can they necessarily reach one in the community—they only have between fifteen seconds and a couple of minutes to get to one. Seniors in particular can have a hard time or the community bomb shelter may just be too far away.
Yet as the Red Alert sirens (this is the siren that goes off when impending missiles are on their way) blared, it was reported by Yediot Acharonot that for over 2.5 million people in the center of the country in cities like Tel Aviv, there isn’t easy access to bomb shelters.9 Many older buildings haven’t been retrofitted to protect their inhabitants. This could increase the possibility that many people could be hurt or killed from Palestinian terrorists firing rockets at Tel Aviv and the surrounding area. Thank God for Iron Dome that stops so many of the missiles—but not always. Sometimes Palestinian rockets reach their desired target.
I’m no psychologist but this seems like a reason why so many Israelis seem so fatalistic, what will be will be. Maybe even why some choose to be religious—believing that a higher power will protect you is very comforting under any circumstance, but under these conditions, bolstering your faith can be calming.
One strange fact I discovered during this most recent plague of Palestinian missiles was that in Ashkelon, which is approximately eight miles from Gaza, the 450 Palestinian rockets launched against Israel surprisingly caused deliveries of a more pleasant kind—there were twenty-one births in a 36-hour time period. Out of necessity, the babies were delivered in the hospital’s bomb shelter. The nurses said the anxiety of rocket attacks can set labor into motion. The usual number of births during this same time period would have been twelve to fourteen.10
Do you also wonder what it’s like for the parents, especially the moms? Reading this article, I couldn’t help but question what they are thinking as they are giving birth, legs vulnerably spread wide open delivering their precious babies into a war zone. Oy.
When I think of these newborns, I can’t help but hope that by the time they graduate high school they no longer will have to go into the Israeli military. Can there ever be Peace? What will make people stop hurting one another and decide compromise can be the only viable solution? We need to live by the Golden Rule—treat others as you would have them treat you. We need a miracle.
As always, I invite you to Join Me on My Journey…
1 “List of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel in 2019,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel_in_2019
2 CBS News/AP, November 12, 2019, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-rocket-attacks-after-gaza-strike-kills-islamic-jihad-leader-bahaa-abu-el-atta-iran-2019-11-12/
3 As rockets rain down, Israel intensifies its strikes in Gaza By Fares Akram and Josef Federman, Associated Press, November 13, 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israeli-strikes-kill-gaza-militants-death-toll-now-66964429
4 As rockets rain down, Israel intensifies its strikes in Gaza By Fares Akram and Josef Federman, Associated Press, November 13, 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israeli-strikes-kill-gaza-militants-death-toll-now-66964429
5 As rockets rain down, Israel intensifies its strikes in Gaza By Fares Akram and Josef Federman, Associated Press, November 13, 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israeli-strikes-kill-gaza-militants-death-toll-now-66964429
6 “Hamas Charter: A Covenant for Israel’s Destruction,” Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva, April 28, 2914, https://embassies.gov.il/UnGeneva/NewsAndEvents/Pages/The-Hamas-Charter—A-Covenant-for-Israel’s-Destruction.aspx
7 by Patrick Smith, Paul Goldman, Lawahez Jabari and Rachel Elbaum, Israel hit by rockets from Gaza after airstrike kills Islamic Jihad leader, NBC News, November 12, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israel-hit-50-rockets-gaza-after-airstrike-kills-islamic-jihad-n1080391
8 Photo of Terrified 5-year-old Shows Palestinian Rockets’ Toll on Israeli Children, United with Israel, November 19. 2019, https://unitedwithisrael.org/photo-of-terrified-child-during-hamas-rocket-attack-goes-viral/
9 Report: Over Two Million in Center of Country Have No Access to Bomb Shelters, By Dov Benovadia, November 13, 2019, Hamodia, https://hamodia.com/2019/11/13/report-2-million-center-country-no-access-bomb-shelters/
10 As Rockets Fell Doctors Delivered 21 Babies at Ashkelon Hospital, by TOI Staff, Times of Israel, November 15, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-rockets-fell-doctors-delivered-21-babies-at-ashkelon-hospital/
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