We live in Gush Etzion, directly east of "Hamastan," about an hour away. We go to the beach in Ashkelon or Ashdod, just north of Gaza. It is somewhat safer here, in that there is only an occasional drive by shooting, random bombing, some rogue worker using his heavy equipment to plow down people and cars. Just before we got here a worker from Bet Lechem (Bethlehem), tried to blow himself up in our local grocery store. His trigger failed, and he was shot on the spot by a person who recognized him, realized Palestinian are not in Ephrata on the day before Shabbos (an obviously busy shopping day), and wearing an overcoat in the Summer. For the most part, we take all of this as ‘part of the territory’, but we don’t experience it on a daily basis, like our countrymen in Sderot.
They are heroes to us for staying in a town in which one gets 15 seconds warning to get to a bomb shelter. The kids and many adults are suffering from PTSD, night terrors, and other nervous conditions for their persistence. Shattered bodies are not the only casualties. We have known about this for years, and felt deeply betrayed that the same government who kicked out 9500 Israelis from Gush Katif by force, did not follow up on their promise that they would retaliate severely, if the Gazans used their newly self-occupied land as a staging area against Israel.
They finally are doing so, but each day is a nail biter because many of us have become cynical. This government is on its way out, so it is no coincidence that they are doing this just before an election. It has almost universal approval here. If you see something else on CNN, well, that’s the media for you. There is always a small but convenient group of ‘antis’ to keep things ‘even’. The general belief is that if Hamas stops the missiles (translate- we destroy their capacity to shoot them), we would be willing to stop short of destroying them. A power void could be worse, and Fatah has shown no less restraint. They are just being more closely watched; a condition which would be severely altered, if they got the state they clamor for.
Where we live is not in range of rockets either from Hamas or Hezbollah, but we have hosted friends besieged by both. In the last Lebanon fiasco, we had friends from the North living with us for six weeks. This past week, we hosted a family who left their home in Beersheva, due to the Grad missiles coming from Hamastan.
Since the incursion is becoming more successful, the amount of rockets is decreasing from a high of over 100/day to 14 yesterday (Jan. 5). May that trend continue to 0 and stay there, B”H. There are people who would see Hamas and Fatah totally destroyed, and the rest of the ‘civilian’ population gone, but mostly they admit that stance to be largely the result of unremitting aggression since we aspired to come here (this is not a political discussion, though).
I think the PR this time around has been astoundingly good. I was listening to a number of the news stations (France 24, CNN, Fox, Al-Jazeera, and the like), and encountered a new breed of well-informed, tough Israeli apologists. They did not allow themselves to be bullied, and did not allow the opposition to stray from the point. They diffused the so-called “humanitarian issue” by rightly pointing out how cynical it is to blame civilian casualties on Israelis, when Hamas routinely stores their military arsenals in schools, mosques, and other civilian structures. The thugs regularly hide among the civilians.
I am amazed at Israeli precision by having a Hamas/civilian casualty ration of 3-4/1. I particularly note an interview on Al-Jazeera, an understandably harsh forum for an Israeli. They brought on the A-Team. The interviewer constantly tried to overtalk the Israeli with the usual agenda. The Israeli would not allow it, and shouted over him (now this is the Israeli I have come to know and love). When the interviewer finally stopped his diatribe, the Israeli said that he was ‘invited’ on the air to give the Israeli side, so please be quiet for a few seconds, so he could present it. He them acquitted himself quite well.
No one is staying diplomatically quiet when the other side makes outrageous statements. Each detractor is being made to eat his words. I saw one Hamas apologist reduced to the eloquent response of saying, in an appropriately shocked voice, “I can’t believe you are saying this”, lacking any words of rebuttal. I’m sure it appealed to the more emotional among us.
Despite all this, it is not uncommon to find a victim of a terrorist attack and the attacker in the same Israeli emergency room. And there is a ton of humanitarian supplies sent to Gaza daily. Israel teats it enemies better that they treat themselves. ---------------------------------- Sol Grazi is a former Denver resident now living with his family in Israel.