The government of Israel almost begged the other day, pleading with the Hamas terrorist government to stop its rocket barrages against civilians in Ashkelon and other population centers near Gaza. These pleas fell on deaf ears. As a friend of mine who lives in Binyamina, near Haifa, said to me Thursday, “You know they fired sixty rockets into Ashkelon yesterday?”
Through Skype, I was able to see her face as well as hear her voice. She is a slightly left-of-center psychologist, a combat veteran like her husband, a mother of three grown kids who also served their country. She wants a Palestinian state. She is willing to make sacrifices to see it come about. But she does not belong to the suicidal left in Israel, and she does not respect the Palestinians now running Gaza.
“They are so stupid,” she went on. “We withdrew completely from Gaza three years ago. What did they do? They went on provoking us relentlessly, just like Hezbollah did after we got out of Lebanon. What do they think we are going to do? Sit back and be rocketed forever?”
The answer became apparent this morning as Israel launched its most severe reprisal in decades for Hamas’s stepped-up rocket attacks. Forty security strongholds belonging to the Hamas military wing were destroyed in five minutes, with more in an ongoing assault. At this writing almost two hundred people were killed, mainly soldiers serving a government bent relentlessly on perpetuating terror.
Tragically, some civilians were killed, and the responsibility for their deaths rests squarely with their leaders. Predictably, a Hamas spokesman called it “a twenty-first century Holocaust,” which they say began when Israel tried to starve the Gazan people with its blockade. But of course it did not start there. It started when Hamas and other Palestinian groups decided to continue the real, original Holocaust by wiping the Jews off the map of the Middle East.
As with Hezbollah, Hamas has strong ties to Iran and has the explicitly stated goal of destroying the Jewish state. One of their spokesmen today called on all fighters to attack “every Zionist house in Israel”—in other words, Jewish civilians. In their own media, their anti-Semitic propaganda is vicious and relentless.
Notice the difference here. Israel withdraws from Gaza, dragging recalcitrant Jewish settlers out by force. Hamas and other terror groups gain power in the territory, increasingly targeting civilians and only civilians on the Israeli side of the border, a campaign of terror. Israel, along with Egypt (“Notice,” my friend said, “that they never mention Egypt when they criticize the blockade”) and almost the entire international community, enforces a blockade around Gaza, but one that allows food, medicine and other essential supplies to go through.
Even this does not stop weapons from flowing, since of course Hamas is cynical enough to smuggle them in as food or medicine and in tunnels under constant construction. But the food and medicine still get through.
Still, Hamas’s suicidal determination creates economic havoc in the densely populated territory. People suffer terribly, and of course they blame Israel. With growing self-destructive intent, Hamas and its allies impose a terror campaign on Israeli men, women and children by sending more and more rockets.
Today’s completely predictable response has very broad support within Israel. It is no right-wing gambit. Tzipi Livni, the moderate Foreign Minister and candidate for Prime Minister, has called for the understanding of the international community. Ehud Barak, Defense Minister and would-be peacemaker when he was Prime Minister at the end of the ‘90s, said this would not be an easy or short campaign, but that “the time has come to fight.”
Government spokesman Mark Regev says that the strikes are surgical and that we must be skeptical of Hamas claims about civilian casualties, “We are targeting the Hamas military machine . . . We have to create a new reality where those 250,000 people in Southern Israel do not have to live in bomb shelters.”
This is a tragic outcome brought on by the worst elements among the long-suffering Palestinian people, the elements who at the moment are unfortunately in power in the painfully but inevitably isolated Gaza Strip. Israel is doing what it must do in the circumstances, and what any country would do under this kind of attack.
The Bush administration has called on Hamas to stop sending rockets into Israel. It has called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties. These statements correspond precisely to Israeli government goals. Now, what will Barack Obama say?
Note: Suzi Brozman tried to post this on December 27, 2008, at 10 PM, but technical difficulties prevented her. Please forgive my delay in finally posting it:
How sad a night–to be lighting the seventh candle on the Hannukiah, commemorating that a great miracle happened in Israel, with the lights of hope illuminating our comfortable, safe (if perhaps a little poorer) homes, while trying not to focus during that festive moment on what’s happening right now in the tiny confines of the Jewish homeland. The lights glittering there are not from menorahs, but from deadly rockets sent helter-skelter into the night sky, only to land God knows where, sending destruction and death randomly across the south of Israel. Where are our miracles today? And if we could see them, what form would they take? I know which one I’d vote for–a cadre of leaders on both sides, men and women of foresight and strength, ready to craft a real peace.
I hate this war, I hate the actions of the Palestinian leaders, and I hate the surgical precision with which Israel responds. Is the death of a civilian child in Israel a bigger crime than the death of his or her Palestinian cousin just a few miles away? There is one big difference that I (admittedly prejudiced) see–the Israelis beg for peace, the Palestinian leaders seem to cherish martyrdom. How do you counter those who feel dying for your cause is better than living with compromise?
You wrote that Israel almost begged the other day for Hamas to stop its rocket barrages. Perhaps the problem has been going on for 60 or more years, since before the official founding of the state, when Israel has been forced to live with an untenable situation, and has not been allowed to "finish the job," not in terms of people killed, but in terms of forging a settlement both sides can live with.
Sadly, the world sees Palestinians as underdogs, downtrodden and helpless, while Israel is viewed as a powerful monolith. It’s been a clever job by the media and the PR hacks, but it’s not the truth. To hark back to Shakespeare, "Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer"? Most of all, hath not a Jew the same right to live and to protect that right, as anyone else?
I have seen in person how Israelis live under siege, how children shake when the code red alert sounds, how everyone in Sderot who could physically leave has fled. Hamas throws barrages of rockets and missiles at Israel, blaming the Jews and warning that any retaliation will result in suicide bombers. So in their eyes, Israel is damned whatever they do.
And our friends at the UN seem to have taken the same attitude, tying Israel’s figurative hands, blindfolding her, and challenging her to live that way. Friends of mine on Kibbutz Nachal Oz, whose fields form the border between Israel and Gaza, wrote to me earlier today:
"So far we are OK. We are told to stay in a protected room and not to go outside if not necessary.
"At about 10 this morning,it was very quiet,when all of a sudden we hear a rolling sound outside then a thunderous boom and the whole house shook, like in a earthquake,then a second time and then a third time. After that,we heard airplanes and some more explosions.
"On our beeper,which all of the homes surrounding Gaza have,we were told what has happened and we were told to stay inside.
"A Moshav which is not to far from here but out of rocket range has opened up rooms for all of us who want to leave. We have been invited to family to stay with them and some friends of mine who live up North also invited us. We are staying as most of the families are also staying,those with children might want to send their children,if we still have children at home,we might be doing that also.
"The whole area is under military rule and no one who does not live in this area are not allowed through.
"The air strikes helps but we still need to go in. Israel surprised Hammas and us also,because they and us,did not think that Israel would strike on Sabbath. So the leaders of Hammas came out of hiding until Sunday and it cost them.
"Our TV stations are all broadcasting nothing but what happened today in Gaza
"Alon’s (my son for those of you who do not know) reserve unit but not Alon so far, have been called up.
"What night will bring and at 5:30 PM it is already dark,I do not know, but we for the first time are thinking of putting a mattress in our security room to sleep tonight.
"If the army tells us to leave,I will volunteer to stay on the kibbutz and work in the dairy farm,life goes on with the livestock. They have to be fed and milked and calves are born.
"Will let you know what happens when it happens.
"Keep the faith, "
Whichever side you favor, please join me in a prayer that this insane world will wake up and encourage reasonable minds on both sides to finally come to some understanding that will allow people to live, work and rear their families in peace in this holy land, so sacred to much of the world.
GUYS!first thing there is nothing called israel, its palestine.Jews where in minority in palestine.jews should exist in middleeast but not as israel but as palestiniance.Jews where spread into the world and most of them in israel are from europe.they where driven aways or killed there.so jews should fight the europeans and not to kill the people who shelttered them for centuries.u can go to history books and see , muslims had always protected and sheltered jews,infact any one.its the europeans who killed u.please open ur eyes.
The Jews started their history in Israel, were mostly driven out of Israel although some were there continuously, returned to Israel, and are in Israel to stay. Up to a point they will share it with others as long as those others are willing to share it with them. But the Jews are not going away, ever again, nor will they ever again subject themselves to being ruled by others in their own ancient homeland.
That’s reality, for real.