Reesa Cohen Stone

Protecting More Than the Edge

We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas’ terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region   IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner 

This is not the time for quiet. We have a bank of various targets. An Iron Dome [missile battery] will be needed in every Israeli home   Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum

On Monday morning, the first day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas’s missile attack on Southern Israel, a woman came to my desk at work to ask where the safe room was on that floor. There had already been a siren in Beer Sheva early that morning, and she had a meeting scheduled later with about 15 people in the conference room next to my department.

A safe room is a room that has been fortified with extra concrete to withstand a direct hit from an incoming missile. According to Israeli law, all private residences must have one safe room in the house, and all public buildings are required to have one safe room on each floor. This law came into effect about 12 years ago. Unfortunately, the building I work in is about 15 years old.

I looked the young lady in the eye, and said, “Sorry, there isn’t a safe room on this floor.” She was shocked. “So what do we do?” she asked. “Pray”, I answered.

She was not amused.

I took her to the two areas on my floor to which people run during a missile attack due to lack of choice. One is an internal stairwell that is behind a locked door and has a small window but is quite a distance away, and the other is a hallway close by the conference room with a concrete ceiling but with a large glass window wall. She looked around. “I guess a little prayer wouldn’t hurt,” she sighed.

Operation Protective Edge (in Hebrew, Tzuk Eitan – loosely translated as a Firm Cliff – is much more poetic) is in its fourth day. About 400 missiles have been launched into Israel in the past 72 or so hours. There have been sirens all the way from Zichron Yaakov in the north to Yerucham in the South. Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been targeted. The Israel Air Force has hit more than 600 targets in Gaza, blowing up bomb factories, rocket launchers, and the homes of Hamas leaders. Sometimes, those leaders were at home.

It’s summertime in Israel; hot, humid, and raining missiles. Summer camps are closed; university exams are cancelled; people have been advised not to travel but to stay close to safe areas.

40,000 soldiers have been called up for emergency duty, one of whom is my son.

The foreign press is going wild. Israel has to find a way of achieving peace with its neighbors. Israel must show restraint and not allow the hostilities to escalate. Israel must not show disproportionate response.

(I still haven’t figured out what the proportionate response is when someone shoots a rocket into your wedding ceremony, or bombs a day care full of 5-year-olds, or, for that matter, indiscriminately shoots missile after missile after missile – each with the potential to kill dozens of people – intentionally into residential areas at times they know they can do the most damage—when the kids are going to or coming from school.)

This movie, we’ve seen before.

Been there, done that, even got the T-Shirt (which apparently is so old it’s been thrown out).

After my son was called up yesterday, I went into cookie mode. I made cookies for him to take with to the army. It’s the least I can do. (I made 1000s of cookies when he was doing his regular service.) An improvement on the last time he was called up for emergency service 18 months ago during Pillar of Defense. Then, I simply cried.

There is really no reason not to cry; same missiles, same bad guys. I guess I’m simply all cried out.

There is, however, one bit difference this time around. Friends around the country are not inviting us to their place for a ‘respite from rocket fire’. They have their own rockets to contend with.

The whole of Israel is under attack.

So, Jews abroad, listen up!

I know this story is boring. You’re asking why can’t we all just get along.

Here’s the deal: the whole of Israel is under attack by evil people who attack babies and grandmothers.

The whole of Israel includes those Jews who live in New York, or Paris, or London.

When Hamas is allowed to indiscriminately attack a Jew in Israel, it is much easier to indiscriminately attack a Jew in Brussels and shoot him dead.

When Tel Aviv is targeted, the Jews of Winnipeg will feel it.

When 2 million Jews in Israel are under attack, 10 million Jews abroad are threatened.

Make no mistake. We are a strong and moral people. We will stand firm. We will win this battle – again.

But it will be easier with you.

Make yourselves aware of the real story and not the CNN version.

Make your voices heard.

Stand tall.

And send cookies.

Most importantly, take a moment to say the prayer for our soldiers.

About the Author
Reesa Cohen Stone is a Canadian-born Israeli, who has been living in Be'er Sheva for a lot of years, with a husband, a bunch of kids and grandkids. We all try and see the fun side of life.