Dear mothers in Gaza,

I am an Israeli mother of 6. Every time a see one of your children taken out of the rabble, my stomach turns. Every time I see one of you twist her arms in anguish, my heart goes out to you.

Because there is nothing as excruciating to a mother as not being able to protect her children.

Every day, I thank God for the privilege of living in a country that has gone to great lengths to protect me and my children. Like every home built in Israel since mid-1990s, my house has a mandatory built-in bomb shelter that doubles as a bedroom. My youngest kids, ages 3 and 5, have been sleeping in this bomb shelter every night for the past two weeks.

I am thankful that for my friends living in older houses, the Israeli army has painstakingly researched the best civil defense techniques and inundated the public with safety instructions, in every possible languages, so that most of us can rattle them off even if woken up in the middle of the night.

I am thankful that when my kids go to school, there is a bomb shelter there. I know that they have been trained how to behave for maximum safety during a rocket attack. And their teachers will look out for signs of fear and emotional trauma and will know to address it.

I am thankful that my government has invested millions in the Iron Dome anti-missile system and early alert systems, so that we can at least try to go about our routine, even as close 2,500 rockets have been shot at our tiny country in the past couple of weeks.

And a you understand, when my country is being bombarded by Hamas rockets, we simply cannot stand idly. We simply cannot let our children grow up terrorized.

Yet, my heart goes out to you, because I know how terrifying this must be.

It is terrifying to watch Hamas shoot rockets from your families’ homes.

It must be terrifying to watch your kids being used as a human shield on the streets.

It must be terrifying to send your kids to school, when that school serves Hamas as a weapon depot and a launching pad for rockets.

It must be terrifying to know that instead of being taken care of by the very people you elected to govern you, they have used all available resources to bring a calamity on your people, and then made it off to the safety of Qatar.

And most of all, it must be terrifying to be entirely powerless to do anything to protect your kids.

All of us, in Israel and in the international community, have a responsibility towards you, the mothers of Gaza. It is our joint responsibility to free Gaza from the people who hold you and your kids hostage.

It is our responsibility to stand up to Hamas’s “dead baby” media strategy.

It is our responsibility to show outrage and protest launching warfare from within civilian population.

It is our responsibility to take measures, as the IDF has done, to give you notice letting you get away from places when you can get caught in the cross-hairs.

But then you and all your fellow citizens have to share in this responsibility. It is your responsibility to stop playing by the terrorists’ rules.

It is your responsibility to choose life.

It is your responsibility to choose a government that will invest the millions of dollars in international aid into building a future for your children, not death for mine.

The mothers of Gaza, I know you love your children. For their sake, let’s stop the madness.

Let’s free Gaza from Hamas!