I don’t pretend to be a military strategist. I don’t pretend to know it all. Nevertheless, having spent my youth growing up in a rough area of New York City, you tend to pick up on things and become streetwise out of sheer necessity.

You know when to walk, when to run and when to stand your ground. You know never to discount your gut feeling.

You gain a sixth sense for the ominous and some things you learn after having the floor mopped up with you. Then, it becomes a part of you − the common sense, the sixth sense, the sense of the streetwise kid. You know what works and you know what doesn’t. It becomes second nature to you, so clear, so obvious, and yet, something beyond the comprehension of those who live outside of the city limits.

Here in the Middle East, it’s no different. You know what works, and you know what doesn’t. And, here, delusion comes with a heavy price.

I haven’t a doubt in my mind about what Israel needs to do. The situation in Israel’s south has been intolerable for over a decade, and the policy of restraint never made sense to me. 12,000 rockets have rained down on Israel’s civilian population from Gaza in the past 12 years. You can’t answer extremism with moderation. It doesn’t work. The Arabs want us dead. Every last one of us.

This is the Middle East where the Arab mindset cannot be observed and measured through the lens of western culture. The Arab mindset perceives restraint as weakness, and it only serves to embolden our enemies. Limited and inadequate responses merely delay the inevitable.

This is precisely where Israel is at now – at the defining moment of the inevitable.

Thus, the goal cannot be to merely cripple the terrorist infrastructure, but to run our enemies out of business, to decimate their entire infrastructure – to bring our enemies to their knees. If we are ever going to have peace in our little enclave of the Middle East, we have to play by the rules of the terrain, by the only rules our enemies understand.

I say this fully cognizant of what it means. It means ground troops. It means sending our boys in. I say this despite the churning sensation of nausea and dread that overtakes one who has a child on the front.

This is our land, our people, our country. Our turf! Our past and our future. We are under fire, and we must do what must be done.

Tough talk? No…not at all, just reality. I say this with nerves on edge, having had no knowledge of the whereabouts of my own son’s unit since the start of Operation Amud Anan. For well over 24 agonizing hours, I could not make contact with my son. I did not receive any word from him….until just about an hour ago. I know I am not alone in this. My story is one that belongs to all mothers and fathers of soldiers here.

I had a feeling where my son was, and what his role may be in this war, and part of me wasn’t sure if I really wanted to confirm my feelings. But when I finally heard his voice I knew that it was just what I needed to hear, and the streetwise punk inside of me melted. And, maybe, just maybe, my voice was something he needed to hear as well. True to his nature, he used the short moments we had on the phone cracking jokes and making light of the situation. He made me laugh away all my anxiousness and worries…at least for those short moments. Although, as quickly as he made my fear for him dissipate, with the phone line silenced, the dread once again returned in a rage.

But, ain breira. There is no choice. Now is not the time to stand down. In this neighborhood, we have to stand our ground, or the ground, which we stand on, will be wiped out from under us.

May God watch over all of our chayalim, our men, our women, our sons and our daughters. May He be their Amud Anan (pillar of cloud) in the day and Amud Ha’esh (pillar of fire) in the night. May He bring them safely back to us.