Probably very different from Israelis who were ducking rocket fire near Gaza

By Jonathan Feldstein

Good morning from the Judean mountains.  I slept well last night but when I woke up I realized that just 30-40 miles from my home, for hundreds of thousands of Israelis, it was a horrible night. Again.

Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza fired over 60 rockets at Israeli communities, trying to kill, maim, and terrorize as many Israelis as possible.  Despite the Iron Dome that typically shoots down 90% of all incoming rockets aimed at Israeli communities, some broke through and there have been injuries.

As immoral as it is for terrorists to fire rockets deliberately at population centers, unfortunately that is very much the norm.  The impact is felt widely.

Parents who spent all night worried about protecting their kids from rockets every hour or two have had to wake up (assuming they even slept at all) to get their kids off to school, and get to work.  As if everything is normal.

At the Mercy of Monsters. This scene in May 2023 captures the terror for a mother and her daughter as they instantly leave their car on a road between Ashkelon and Sderot and crouch on the side of the road clutching each other as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90

Children who spent all night in bomb shelters ate breakfast, got dressed, and ready to go to study math and science and history, and socialize with friends.  As if everything is normal. They will play in the playgrounds during recess, but not more than 15 seconds away from a bomb shelter. Just in case they have to take cover. 

The rocket fire began before they went to bed the previous night.  At the scene of one rocket landing in the middle of a residential street, kids gathered to have ice cream, displaying their bravery and resolve, as if everything was normal: a rocket lands on your street, and you have ice cream! Normal! But they were standing in front of a car littered with the shrapnel that was packed into the rocket, shrapnel that was meant to cut apart their bodies.

Red Alerts. For those in southern-western region of Israel near Gaza, these are the messages they are receiving one after another – ROCKET ATTACKS! (Photo: social media/the public domain.) 

Their teachers have to be the adults in the room but are no less well-rested, no less stressed. They have kids of their own too. Teachers have to engage their young students in basic education, but also serve as a sounding board for kids who are physically exhausted from not sleeping, and emotionally fearful.

Elderly and infirm Israelis, some Holocaust survivors, will calculate whether they really need to go out for milk or eggs, and may decide it’s safest and smartest to stay indoors, hiding just like many did to survive the Nazis, just in case.

Hundreds or thousands of orphans and at-risk children who may not have had parents to protect them overnight, coming from homes that are not safe, woke up to the reality that they are not safe at home, not safe in their community, and struggle with the trauma and stress of all this even if they are too young to articulate why. For those who can articulate it, it doesn’t make them less stressed or traumatized.  As if everything is normal.

Just a few miles away, thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Gaza will line up at the Erez Checkpoint to cross the border into Israel, coming to work, shopping, or getting medical care in the communities and among the people who Palestinian Arab terrorists spent all night loading and firing rockets at, to kill, maim and terrorize as many as possible. Civilians. Men, women and children. Just because the terrorists are evil and don’t sanctify life.  Just a normal day on the Israel-Gaza border.

Life is reduced to Luck! A building in the Israeli city of Sderot sustaining a direct hit of a rocket from Gaza on a children’s bedroom.

Israelis wonder why our government and military don’t end the threat of terror from Gaza’s Palestinian Arab hate groups and target those responsible. Why are they allowed to hide behind their civilians, firing rockets from urban areas knowing that Israel won’t fire back to take out the terrorists and risk the lives of Palestinian Arab civilians?  Are their lives worth more than ours?

People of good conscience around the world who see the black and white, the evil of the terrorists, and can’t imagine this happening in their community because it never would.  But many don’t. They think Israel is somehow at fault, or deserving of ongoing rocket and other terrorist attacks because for some, morality is malleable, relative. 

Anywhere else in the world, it would not be tolerated. In no other circumstance would it be considered normal. Nowhere else would the terrorist perpetrators be celebrated, and excuses made for their actions, while blaming the victims.

Two months ago, I visited Sderot, the Israeli city that’s closest to the Gaza border.  It’s a lovely growing community. Less than a mile separates Gaza where terrorists reign, and some 30,000 Israelis just trying to live.  I visited a program for orphans and at-risk youth for whom the trauma of their existence requires ongoing care and comfort, and which I have been privileged to support.  They were engaged in a group therapy when I arrived, before playing in the yard, and then getting help with their homework and a hot meal before heading home, because their parents are not able to care for them properly.  So the community steps up to help.  Across the street is a playground made of concrete so that if they are playing and rockets come, they can duck inside one of the “climbing toys” and be protected.  This is their normal.

The New Normal! Standing before a car struck by a rocket littered with shrapnel, these kids display the Israeli flag while having frozen suckers in a display of defiance and resilience. (Photo: social media/the public domain.) 

You can join the Genesis 123 Foundation to provide urgently needed and ongoing therapies and care for the most vulnerable, orphans and at-risk youth.  While we can’t stop the rockets, we can build resilience, show love and support, and enable these young people to stay strong, even when living in their normal lives is not normal.

If you woke up rested and not suffering the threat of terror or rockets, not worrying about protecting your children and staying strong for them albeit while you know that you can only protect your kids to a limit, please join us to help parents and children whose days started very differently.

How’s your day going?

About the writer:

Jonathan Feldstein ­­­­- President of the US based non-profit Genesis123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians – is a freelance writer whose articles appear in The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Townhall,, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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