Missiles fired from Gaza, Israel answering with air power destroying Hamas targets and build-up of Israeli troops near the Gaza border in response to the new violence and in preparation for the March of Return—will this grow into another ugly confrontation? I hope that isn’t the case but it’s not looking good.
As if missiles sailing through the sky in both directions isn’t enough, the first anniversary of the March of Return is in a couple days. Hamas wants tens of thousands of Palestinians to show up and given what’s happened thus far during their violent protests throughout the year—it will be a miracle if the situation doesn’t escalate.
After Hamas firing into Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago and now destroying an Israeli house with 7 people hurt, Israel didn’t allow those destructive actions to be ignored. According to The Times of Israel, Hamas said it accepted Egypt’s ceasefire and then spent the night shooting at least 30 rockets into Israel.1 When will both sides concede that retaliation just puts both parties running on an endless hamster wheel of destruction without end in sight?
Israel returned fire toward Hamas military compounds, tunnels used for transporting weapons, military sites and rocket launching locations.2
The Times of Israel reported that a “statistical review finds Palestinians launched 1,233 rockets from the Strip, hurled 94 explosive devices and 600 Molotov cocktails across the security fence and committed 152 acts of arson against Israeli forces since Hamas-orchestrated weekly border demonstrations erupted a year ago.”3 Incendiary kites alone are responsible for burned fields and $9.5 million dollars of damage.4
Yet far too often what is reported in the news is what Israel does in response to Palestinian missiles—ignoring the fact that the Palestinians struck first. Why is this bias so prevalent? It’s so unfair even though I wish neither side was having these violent confrontations. Too often the world expects Israel to take the violence against their citizens and do nothing about it. Israel does practice restraint, and tries to prevent harm with their responses by their explicit warnings when they will bomb the specific targets—but the Palestinian leaders ask their people to stay and become martyrs.
The possibility that Israel may once again feel forced to go to war is distressing. Something that gets to my kishkas (guts) is that my BFF Iron Dome couldn’t stop the missile that destroyed a home and injured seven people—including women and children. My long-time fear of Palestinians acquiring a weapon beyond Iron Dome’s protection capability has arrived.
Iron Dome has always been a primary factor in why during Operation Protective Edge that there weren’t more Israeli casualties. It’s why I call Iron Dome my BFF. When we were in Israel in July 2014 the subject of my book, “Blasted from Complacency: A Journey from Terror to Transformation,” coming out in May—Iron Dome was responsible for stopping many of the missiles that the Palestinians were shooting into Israel.
Iron Dome is a defensive weapon that detects and stops the Palestinian missiles in midair and blows them up—they don’t have the chance to land and do their intended damage. You have to wait in the bomb shelter an extra 10 minutes until the shattered parts fall from the sky so they don’t hit you. Iron Dome is largely credited for why the injured and death statistics for Israel were comparatively low. That was great but it did cause an unfair impression that Israel was a bully of the Palestinians even though the Palestinians had sent over 45005 missiles and mortars against Israel—they had been mostly ineffective.
But the Jerusalem Post reported that not only was the missile that hit the Israeli house capable of reaching a range of more than 100 kilometers carrying a 125-km warhead, it was a J-80 that traveled a nonlinear path and consequently could not be intercepted by Iron Dome!6 OMG, this will add a whole other level of fear and potential danger if this next altercation does materialize.
The bottom line for me is that all of this talk of potential war, injuries and killing is depressing. Violence doesn’t work and the cost is too high—the loss of human life. That’s how I feel—yet I’m a Jewish American and am safely here at home. Israelis and Palestinians risk their lives daily—it’s tragic.
I attended an event this week about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we watched several videos of interviews with Israelis. Not surprisingly, the interview with an Israeli mother got to me as she talked about her children mandatorily serving in the military. Not only were they in danger themselves, but how they felt about their interactions with the Palestinians, when they were acting as soldiers caught my attention. The discomfort with their duty to their country was apparent. Oy.
So as we approach March 30, I pray please not again. I hope the Palestinian missiles stop, and the protests don’t escalate for both Israeli and Palestinian safety.
As always I invite you to Join Me On My Journey. . .
1 Judah Ari Gross, Adam Rasgon and TOI Staff, “Hamas claims truce reached, but rocket fire, Israeli air strikes continue,” The Times of Israel, March 25, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-says-ceasefire-reached-after-heavy-barrage-from-gaza-pounds-south/
2 Anna Ahronheim, “State official: No ceasefire, fighting may resume at any moment,” The Jerusalem Post, March 26, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=584659
3AP and TOI Staff, “Israel says over 2,000 violent incidents originated in Gaza in past year,” March 27, 2019, The Times of Israel, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-says-over-2000-violent-incidents-originated-in-gaza-in-past-year/
4AP and TOI Staff, “Israel says over 2,000 violent incidents originated in Gaza in past year,” March 27, 2019, The Times of Israel, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-says-over-2000-violent-incidents-originated-in-gaza-in-past-year/
5 “Israel under fire July-August 2014 – Diary,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Terrorism/Pages/Israel-under-fire-July-2014-A-Diary.aspx
6Jerusalem Post Staff, “Why did the Iron Dome not intercept the rocket from Gaza Monday morning?” The Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=584537