It’s 3:00 A.M. You just finished putting your 8 month old child back to sleep for the second time that night. You’re exhausted, and you quickly fall back to sleep. But not for long.
The cacophonous sound of the siren wakes you up from your slumber. “Tzeva Adom! Tzeva Adom!” The siren broadcasts this sound, which translates into “Color Red! Color Red!” But for people like you, it means, “Rocket attack! 15 seconds for safety! Rocket attack!”
A Qassam rocket has just been fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists belong to the terrorist organization Hamas. Or perhaps they are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Or any of the other terrorist organizations that have set up their base in the Gaza Strip and continue to terrorize over one million Israelis living in rocket range.
Maybe it’s not a Qassam rocket, which can carry 11 miles and can carry a 20 lb warhead. Perhaps it’s a Katyusha or Grad rocket, which have a range of 12.6 miles, and can carry a 35 lb warhead. Or maybe it’s an Upgraded Grad rocket, which has a range of 30 miles, and can carry a 100 lb warhead. It doesn’t make a difference to you. The rocket launched is only one type of rocket – a Terror Rocket.
Where do you live? Perhaps in Sderot, which has been tormented with rockets and destruction? Maybe in Beersheba? Or Ashkelon? Netivot? Ofakim? Kiryat Malakhi? Ashdod? Gedera? Rehovot? The list goes on and on. You, and over one million Israelis, live in range of rocket attacks. You, and over one million innocent humans, continue to be terrorized.
You wake up instantly. You have no time to waste. You whirl out of bed, leaving the bedsheets tossed over on the floor. You zip into the next room, where your 8 month old infant is crying together with your 2 year old. Another child, aged 4, is also traumatized and is crying loudly.
You are torn. You want to cry. You are alone that night – your husband is out of town. You can not take all three of your children with you. Who do you take? How do you look at one of your children in your eye, knowing that you will have to leave them behind, with a possible rocket falling on your house?
What have you done to deserve this? Nothing. You’re an innocent human being who just wants peace, but you are constantly terrorized, both physically and psychologically. Why do these rockets rain down on your head relentlessly? After all, in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Everyone said that this would bring peace in the Gaza Strip. No settlements, no “occupation,” no Israeli presence, nothing. Even synagogues would be demolished. One can even describe it as “ethnic cleansing” – of Jews.
After all, so many declare that it is the settlements that are the obstacle to peace. It is the “occupation” that is the obstacle to peace. If only Israel would withdraw from these areas – no matter what the security cost – there would be peace, by any logic. It is irrelevant that some of the most devastating terror attacks have taken place inside Israel proper rather than in Judea and Samaria or the Gaza Strip. It is irrelevant that the Hamas charter calls for the genocide of Jews and the destruction of Israel. It is irrelevant that Hamas also wages war against the PLO, who they see as secular, and who have entered negotiations with Israel, which they view as detestable.
Hamas, unlike the days when the PLO was involved in terrorist organizations (or ordered other terrorist organizations, such as Black September, to carry out operations), wants to replace Israel with a religious Muslim state. Indeed, a primary reason why Arabs opposed the creation of Israel and Palestinians continue to oppose Israel is that it breaks up the Arab countries in the Middle East. Here you have Lebanon, and over here you have Syria, and here Jordan, and here Egypt, and here Saudi Arabia, and here Iraq, etc etc. And smack in the middle, like a slap in the face, you have tiny little Israel, a Jewish state now and forever. But Hamas wants the replacement of Israel with a religious Muslim state, instead of a secular one (not that the replacement of Israel with a secular country is good either).
To this end, Hamas has orchestrated scores of suicide bombings, especially in the wake of the Oslo Accords, which they fiercely opposed. Yasser Arafat too imprisoned many Hamas members, as they represented a threat to the PLO and to the peace process, although many argue that he could’ve done more to prevent the terrorist attacks and bombings. For a number of years, Hamas has not used suicide bombings as it previously has, but this is largely due to tightening security, the security fence, Israel’s legitimate blockade of Gaza (U.N. Palmer Report), etc, which all contribute to the inability to carry out such suicide bombings.
But rocket attacks are different. Rocket attacks can be launched from home, and while Israel may retaliate by launching an airstrike on terror sites, they can’t prevent the actual rocket attack. Only rarely does Israel pre-emptively strike a terrorist cell launching rockets. Often, the IAF just doesn’t spot them in time, or there is too large a risk of civilian casualties.
In 2006, elections were held for a Palestinian unity government, and at the urging of world leaders who insisted Hamas would not be elected and democratic elections were necessary, Israel allowed Hamas to run in the elections, despite the U.S., the E.U., and other members of the international community rightly labeling them as a terrorist organization. In contrast, Hamas won the elections, both in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria. A brief Palestinian unity government was formed, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as its prime minister. The unity government lasted briefly, and the long-time rivalry between Fatah and Hamas could not be contained. Israel and the Quartet had placed international sanctions on this new unity government until it recognized Israel and renounced violence, which Hamas was unwilling to do.
In 2007, Saudi Arabia brokered negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, and the Palestinian authority national unity government was formed in 2007.Violence soon broke out, with Hamas members tossing Fatah operatives off of buildings during the Battle of Gaza. Hamas toppled the government in Gaza, while Fatah remained as the head of the government in Judea and Samaria. Following the takeover in Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas ended the unity government, and rivalry continues until today between the two sides. Recently, they have attempted at unity, but this is marred with insults between the two sides, arrests, not fulfilling aspects of the negotiations, and overall rivalry, leading to what many call “Shamunity.”
The Quartet and Israel lifted sanctions off of the P.A., while Israel and Egypt launched a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which the U.N. Palmer Report deemed as legitimate, since the Hamas terrorist organization wages war against Israel. Still, Hamas continues to be funded by a host of Arab countries, such as Iran and Qatar, and has stores of weapons. Without an Israeli presence in Gaza, their weapons arsenal continues to grow and grow. In the year 2012, they have more advanced weaponry than they did in the year 2008, which worries the IDF greatly. There is no doubt, however, that the blockade has hurt Hamas greatly. Each week, thousands of aid and goods are sent to the Gaza Strip, and Israel has recently eased restrictions on exports from Gaza.
For example, in November, 2011, the IDF Spokesperson announced that:
- 1,336 patients and accompanying individuals crossed into Israel and the West Bank.
- 33 truckloads of sport equipment, vehicles, washing machines and refrigerators.
- 1,340 businessmen exited the Gaza Strip.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in favor of peace. But it didn’t get peace. It got terror. One can argue that withdrawing from the Gaza Strip would be the right thing if it indeed led to peace. But just like in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah rose to power after Israel withdrew, peace was not to be found. How dare anyone expect Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Judea and Samaria without negotiations with the P.A. and agreeing upon security arrangements? These people want to see Judea and Samaria become another base for Hamas – but Israel will never let this happen.
Rocket attacks from Gaza have not been as successful as suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism, and that is splendid. But they are just as terrible. Rocket attacks disrupt the lives of over a million innocent human beings, whose government took a step for peace and got terror, and they have killed. Each drop of innocent blood is valuable, and even more so, blood killed intentionally in cold-blood.
An article on the website of Islamic Jihad explains that the number of Israelis killed is not their primary goal. They exult in the psychological trauma inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Israelis and children who experience incessant rocket attacks, and who have 15 seconds to find shelter. This is pure terrorism through and through. One of the accepted definitions of terrorism is violence launched intentionally against civilians due to an ideological, political, or religious goal, with the aim of traumatizing the population and inflicting terror.
Since 2002, over 12,000 rockets were launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip. As of February 26th, 2012, 56 rockets were launched into Israel since January of 2012. In December 2008-January 2009, the IDF launched Operation Cast Lead to remove the Hamas terrorist organization from Gaza. After three weeks of heavy fighting, Israel stopped the operation under international pressure. It is likely that the IDF will be forced into a similar operation – although even heavier – during the near future.
The story that I have described in the beginning of my post is unfortunately true. I was told the story by the woman who experienced it on a visit to Israel, and a member of the IDF Home Front Command related to me a similar story. Place yourself in this woman’s shoes, and imagine what you would do. Imagine if you had to live like this. It is heart-wrenching to imagine. But there is no need to imagine it – over 1 million Israelis have to experience it.
I will never forget this woman’s story. Her story is one of the many reasons why I support Israel. What about you?