‘What is it like living under the threat of rocket attacks?” Here in Israel, we’re getting used to the question.
The short answer is, “It’s awful, and we’re not going to take it anymore.” But here’s a slightly longer answer, to show how we come together to fight the stress and to meet the challenge of enemies who hate us only because we are different from them — a predominantly Jewish state in a Muslim neighborhood, a democratic island in an authoritarian sea.
Early Thursday, our son Daniel, 29, was called up for his reserve army unit — a sign Israel may soon begin ground operations in Gaza.
When Daniel was younger, doing his regular army service, he regularly took part in raids to stop PLO and Hamas terrorists from building and smuggling missiles. Two of his officers were killed in suicide bomb attacks. (From our point of view, a “suicide bomber” is just a missile with two legs. We’ve stopped most of them.)
Our other sons may also get called up. We won’t celebrate if they’re called to defend our country, but we know we sometimes have to fight our enemies, not just blow kisses at them.
The young handle the combat, but the fighting doesn’t pass over the old. The other day, shrapnel from an intercepted Hamas rocket sprayed a road junction near the home of my wife’s elderly parents, in Gadera, south of Tel Aviv.
My father-in-law, Mordechai, 91, survived a Nazi camp and a death march, losing his toes. He moved to Israel, becoming a farmer, a father, a grandfather and now a great-grandfather.
Today he’s deaf, blind and bound to a wheelchair. His wife Tova, 85 and also a survivor of Nazi camps, and their caretaker have less than 45 seconds to get him to shelter when sirens go off.
We sometimes have to fight our enemies, not just blow kisses at them.
But they can’t move very fast, and the old two-room house has no shelter, no reinforced walls or roof. They just cluster fast as they can away from the windows, toward the center of the house, hoping no rockets or shrapnel hit them.
We’re concerned but not frozen by fear. We’re vigilant. We live our lives as best we can, knowing that thriving is the best revenge against those who hate us.
My wife, Sara, and I just went to a movie at a nearby theater, a Swedish comedy. Mid-film, we heard sirens: Hamas had fired several rockets at Jerusalem, aiming for the Knesset and a headline.
Iron Dome intercepted the rockets while we waited in the “safe area” of the theater, squished into the vestibule by the bathrooms. Iron Dome is now scoring over a 90 percent interception rate, thank God.
But no defense is perfect, and you can’t live your life behind bulletproof glass. When enemies keep shooting at you, you eventually have to disarm them.
Thank God, we’re better prepared than the British were when Nazi rockets struck London. We will take the fight to the enemy, even if it upsets some who think you can make peace with an implacable enemy just by talking. Here’s why.
People living in Israel’s major cities have been under rocket fire from a variety of Arab terrorists and tyrants for 24 years. Saddam Hussein began the trend in 1991, after he invaded Kuwait. Israel had nothing to do with Kuwait, yet Saddam threatened “to incinerate half of Israel” — and launched 40 rocket attacks, killing three Israelis. Washington pressured us not to retaliate, and we didn’t.
In more recent years, the United States and the “international community” have pressed Israel “to show restraint.” But restraint has only emboldened the terrorists, and brought greater Israeli casualties.
We withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, then got attacked from both. Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Hamas (Gaza) hit us with more rockets, missiles and mortars than Saddam. Our villages and towns along our southern borders have suffered almost weekly attacks for a decade.
The UN secretary-general calls these terror attacks merely “irresponsible”; we know that he and his UN colleagues will condemn us for defending ourselves. Sorry: We’d rather have their condemnations than their condolences.
This article was published in the New York Post.