Excuse me, you’re from the UN? Doing a little fact finding, huh? Want to see how things look on the Israeli side? Well, Netanya is as good a place as any if you want to find out about all the times Israel has been attacked over the years. Yes, I can show you around and tell you what you want to know…
So, you think things are pretty quiet on this end? Where are you coming from, Ashkelon? Beit Hanoun? All kinds of hell breaking loose in Gaza, huh? Well, we have our own story, and it didn’t start in this war, not by a longshot, it goes way, way back…

Okay, this is Canion Hasharon, one of our big shopping centers. Notice all the security guards in front of the building. This place got hit three times at the main entrance, all suicide bombers. That’s right, three times. The first time, it was a Friday morning, I had a friend over for coffee. I live by the beach, fifteen minute walk from here. We heard the boom, a minute later we heard ambulances, then my friend’s wife called frantically to make sure he was still over at my place…How many dead? I’m not sure. Five the first time, twelve the second time, is it even fair to say how many? What if I get the number wrong? Every single one you add or subtract is a life. Just look at the sidewalk, where the security people are. Now picture that sidewalk all covered with blood…

Let’s keep walking down the main road, Herzl Street. Every hundred meters there was another terrorist attack here. See that gas station on the right? That was one of the bad ones. Don’t ask how many dead…That little side street goes up to the shuk, the open air market. We had a bloodbath there one afternoon. That’s right, the Netanya shuk got hit too during the second intifada. Google it…See that newsstand over there, on the corner? Twice bombed. Both times someone left in the trash can a homemade bomb and set if off…That clothes store on the right, the Golf, same type of bomb, pieces of metal and nails were flying all over the place, a few dead, many wounded. No one is sure where the bomb went off, but they say the main impact was by the bus stop…Now we’re in the street mall, there’s the London restaurant on your right. Some fanatic blew himself up right in front of it and left his keys to paradise on the sidewalk, mixed up with his brains. No, I don’t recall how many people he took with him. I just remember the boom. I’m glad you’re writing this down, but the statistics are secondary. The real story is that I’m five minutes from home and we’re on the main street, and for a few years I was too scared to walk down this street with my wife and two small kids.

This is Haatzmaut Square, and there’s the tayelet, our boardwalk, straight up ahead. I can take you down King David Street on the right or Gad Machness on the left and we can continue this terror tour, but the tayelet is so much nicer, let’s take a little break…

Great scenery, huh? The cliffs are awesome, the Mediterranean is beautiful and in spite of this war there are people on the beach. You’re looking at some of the nicest beaches in Israel. When friends come over from America I always tell them this is the best part of Netanya…You’re English is good. What part of Sweden are you from? No, never been there but I’d love to come for a visit sometime. Let’s walk, I want to show you something…

This is where my parents live. I have the keys. It’s okay, the old folks are asleep this time of day….So, we were all sitting here at the seder table on Passover around eleven, twelve years ago, and we were just starting to eat when we heard the ambulances. That was the night they bombed the Park Hotel. I remember the death toll from that bombing because it was the highest. Thirty people were killed. Of course that incident ruined our holiday meal. That’s when terror came into the dining room. Now let’s move into the living room. I was sleeping on that couch when the sirens woke us up at three in the morning, the night the first Gulf War started. Missiles all the way from Iraq, scared the living hell out of me. We got up and ran down the hall. Come with me…This was the sealed room. I closed the door, called up my girlfriend, this was before we were married, and heard over the phone the sound of an explosion when a scud landed near her home in Givatayim. Moments later we heard another one land here in the sea. For hours I sat here with my parents. We looked at each other from behind our gas masks and waited for the all clear.

More terror on the homefront, short walk, one last stop…

Okay, this is where I live. Sit down, make yourself comfortable. Coffee? You can see the sea from the window. That passage leads right up to the beach. We were sitting here one night, my wife and I, when we heard the sound of automatic gun fire. It was coming from the other end of the passage on Gad Machness Street. We ran into the kids’ room and told them to get down on the floor. One of my boys had a friend sleeping over. The kids were scared; so were we. The gunfight lasted a minute or so before the terrorists were taken out. They opened fire in the Jeremy Hotel with the hope to kill everyone at a Bar-Mitzvah party, and they were running this way when they were gunned down. One stray bullet hit a building on our block. If the terrorists would have lasted a minute longer they would have come running down that passage and straight into our building. How much closer to home can you get?

Wait a minute, let’s see if I understand you correctly. You say all this has nothing to do with the current war? Are you kidding me? Do you UN people actually know anything about this part of the world or do you just make things up as you go along? Do you understand that everything I just described to you was either a terrorist act or a war crime?

Okay, I’ll bring you up to date. On the first night of the war, the one we’re in now, we were sitting with a friend in a café up in Hadera when a rocket from Gaza landed in a nearby parking lot. The next day there was an air raid siren here. There is no bomb shelter in this building so I ran out to the stairway. That day my wife went through three air raids where she works in Ramat Gan, and ever since she’s been through many more. In some of them she got caught in the train station and had to lie down on the platform and keep her head covered, along with a thousand other commuters. Whenever there’s an attack we call or text our kids to make sure they’re okay. Do you realize that every single one of these rockets is aimed at civilians, at women and children? Do you guys from the UN even know what war crimes are?

Of course Israel is in much better shape than Gaza! We developed a defense system that keeps us well protected, and our American friends are paying for it so we can keep operating it. In the meantime our enemies hide their rockets and weapons in population centers so that their civilians get caught in the crossfire whenever we shoot back. You might have noticed that their propaganda war depends on it. Or haven’t you figured out yet that the very same war criminals who target Israelis are also terrorizing innocent Palestinians?