Life with rockets

When something outrageous goes on for a long time, people stop being outraged. It is boring to hear or read about things like genocidal wars in Africa, Europe’s collapse into poverty, or the complaints of Israelis about being the targets of thousands of rockets, day in and day out. Better to search the internet, perhaps to find nude pictures of David Petraeus’ girlfriend.

I’m in Israel now, so a few words about the rockets. Everyone I talk to says the same thing: how can this be allowed to continue?

Every day, you take your kids to school (if it’s open and you are not in a shelter), hoping that there will not be a rocket barrage on your way — although Hamas makes an effort to shoot at these hours — moving quickly, keeping an eye on the closest shelter. Every day, rockets land all over southern Israel — small Hamas-built Qassams which can kill you if they land within a few yards, or larger military Grads, a Russian design that is built in multiple countries, including Iran. They smash into open fields, roads, parking lots, homes, schools, synagogues, stores, gas stations, living rooms, bathrooms, farms, factories, banks, telephone booths, markets, everywhere.

When they explode, they spray deadly shrapnel. If you are driving down the street and one lands near your car, the fragments penetrate the sheet metal. Then they penetrate parts of your body, and you may die or be permanently maimed. The sides of buildings are peppered with holes from the shrapnel, like they were hit by a shotgun blast. People’s faces can look like this, too.

When the rocket fire is dense, whole families go to shelters, as many as a million people. Then they come out and perhaps find their homes, cars or workplaces destroyed.

Children wet their beds, can’t concentrate in school, can’t sleep. Adults become phobic or crazy from their powerlessness to protect their families. Sometimes it’s quiet for hours and people relax. Then suddenly, perhaps at 3 am, the “color red” alert is heard, followed by the sound of explosions. In Sderot, which is relatively close to Gaza, there are 15 seconds between the alert and the explosion.

The Iron Dome system is deployed in some places, especially against the longer-range Grad rockets. Sometimes the explosion you hear is in the air, when a rocket is intercepted. Sometimes not.

Rocket fire into Israel from Gaza began in 2002. The intensity varied over time. Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 slowed Hamas down a little, but activity soon went back to ‘normal’. The people who live in southern Israel have been bearing this for ten years.

Deaths have been relatively few compared to the number of rockets because of a combination of factors: the area of effectiveness, especially of the Qassams, is small, they are not aimable except in a general direction, schools and public buildings have been hardened, shelters large and small have been sprinkled throughout the region, and the Iron Dome system works well where it is deployed.

But still there have been numerous injuries, many serious, a large amount of property damage, and incalculable psychological harm done, especially to children. Today even a young teenager who grew up here never knew a time when death didn’t fall randomly from the sky.

Would you live like this? Would you try to raise your kids like this?

The greatest obscenity in this is that it has become acceptable, to the world and even to the Israeli government, to shoot at Jews. If it weren’t OK, why is it allowed to continue? Is the Hamas more powerful than the IDF, than the US, than all the international institutions that supposedly exist to make human life better? If not, why can’t it be stopped?

Defensive measures like shelters and Iron Dome are not a solution, because they affect only the side effects of the Hamas program, not its central goal, which is to humiliate the Jews, to define them as interlopers and legitimate targets, to make them powerless. To make it acceptable to shoot at them.
This is how the Arabs get their “honor” back.

If the IDF takes serious steps to get at the root of the problem, as they began to do but didn’t complete in Cast Lead, the Arabs will squeal like stuck pigs, inventing war crimes to pull at the heartstrings of the West, which is always ready to believe them.

Well, there is Jewish honor, too. Or perhaps just the right to live as human beings who are not acceptable to shoot.

We have an army. Let’s use it.

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2 Responses to “Life with rockets”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is a good description of the terrible pressure placed on the civilian population in the South of Israel.
    Why then doesn’t the Government relieve it immediately?
    I can only conjecture. First, it would definitely take action, God forbid, should there be major casualties on our side. I believe it is the fact that though thousands of missiles are sent the number of victims in a particular year is not in the hundreds or even in the tens. Secondly, any action by Israel involves it once again in an international political battle in which it must depend on a U.S. veto at the U. N.. This political attack is not pleasant even when we sort of win it. Thirdly, there is some danger of this leading to broader military confrontation most problematicallly with Egypt. Fourthly, it can lead to a wider conflict in which not only the South but the whole of Israel is subject to missile attack. Fifthly, any military action involves losses, losses which are likely to be far greater than those which are a result of the missile attacks. Sixthly, it deflects attention from the primary antagonist of the moment, Iran and its nuclear problem.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    The statement “the government would take action if there were major casualties” is exactly the problem!
    It isn’t the body count — it is the fact that attempted murder of Jews is considered acceptable.