Israel’s military ‘Shield and Arrow’ operation was a lethal reminder to  terrorist leaders not to misread internal tensions as fragility

By David E. Kaplan

My daughter Keren, a dance instructor, gets out of her car early evening outside a municipal dance centre in central Israel and is met by an arrogant woman driver in a car parked next to her with:

 “I can’t breath, your car stinks’ its letting off terrible smells,” she bawls

Geveret (lady)”, my daughter replies, “the whole country stinks tonight; it’s Lag B’Omer.”

This Jewish festivity is celebrated by lighting bonfires and having barbecues to symbolize the light that Shimon Bar Yochai brought into the world.  The problem was not with my daughter’s car but with this woman’s knowledge or lack of it! Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad(PIJ) in Gaza suffer from that same malady  – ignorance – not of Jewish festivities but of misreading the signs of Israeli society.

The Right Moves. Keren Kaplan’s students in the dance that came first performing at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv. (Photo by Oren Cohen)

It could not go on! Terrorists were murdering Israelis – notably civilians as well as foreign tourists – in restaurants, pubs, standing at bus stops, walking along pavements and seaside pavilions while at the same time lobbing masses of rockets in the south from Gaza. There was a miscalculation by Palestinian terrorist leaders – that Israel was so wrapped up in internal issues and tensions over the government’s frenzied judicial overhaul that it was vulnerable and easy pickings. WRONG! What country in the world is not going to respond when over a 100 rockets are fired at its civilian centres?

You may argue with your government over tax returns; you are not going to argue with it when it tells you we are about to be attacked and to head for bomb shelters.

Shelter from the Storm. A mother clutching her baby in Sderot in southern Israel leave a shelter in between air raid sirens warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip May 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A total of 104 rockets were fired into Israel over a 24-hour period in the week preceding ‘Operation Shield and Arrow’, most by the PIJ according to IDF reports, with some minor participation from Hamas.

Did the terrorist leaders orchestrating this murderous mayhem really believe that Israel was just going to continue with ‘life as ab’normal’?  Did these terrorist leaders really think they were personally immune from attack while they were free to unleash hellfire on  Israelis? Are Israelis expected to behave like chickens in a coup waiting to be randomly snatched? It was this imagery of chickens that reminded me of the response of Britain’s wartime PM to the sneering comment by French Marshal Philippe Pétain, future leader of the collaborationist Vichy French government who was convinced that Germany would successfully invade Britain as it had done France. He told Churchill that in three weeks, Britain would:

have its neck wrung like a chicken”.

Churchill’s defiant reply in carefully crafted oratory was a dig at France and a scoff at Nazi Germany:

 “Some chicken! Some neck!” 

Defiant in Adversity. Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill delivering his famed  “Some chicken! Some neck!” speech to the Canadian House of Commons on 30 December 1941. (Credit: Library and Archives Canada)

So Israel launched its operation, targeting senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials in pre-dawn airstrikes and no surprise it was supported unequivocally by leaders of Israel’s opposition. In matters of national security, Israelis will set aside differences and hastily shift into existential mode. With a thin sliver to land to protect, most within missile range from some potential enemy, the Shoah (Holocaust) and “never again” casts its shadow. Only a few weeks ago, Israelis stood for a minute’s silence as the siren sounded across the nation, in every city, town, kibbutz and moshav as we remembered the victims of the Shoah.  Now that same siren sounds, telling us that rockets from Gaza are on the way.  If the former siren sound was to remember past  victims  the current sirens are a warning to avoid being victims in the present. That is life in Israel.  Israel’s Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant and Israel’s leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, may be at opposite sides politically but they can agree what is at stake – existentially. Both are children of Holocaust survivors. Galant’s 88-year-old mother who sadly passed away today while Israel is again at war, first arrived in Israel – then Palestine – on the Exodus. These passengers were inhumanely returned to Germany by the British. Yair Lapid’s father, Tommy, escaped death while being forced marched by the Nazis in Budapest to be downed in the Danube,  when an air raid siren led his mother to drag him into a public toilet, and remain there. Staying in that toilet while the rest of the Jews, following the Allied air raid were led off to their deaths, ensured he would one day have a son who would be a Prime Minister of a future Jewish state and today Leader of the Opposition. While at the same time opposing the government on its judicial overhaul, the opposition is supporting it in its defence against terrorism and hence ‘Operation Shield and Arrow’. This the planners in Gaza failed to comprehend when they fired the barrage of 100 rockets into Israel setting off the consequences that were to follow.

Meeting of Missiles. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system (right) intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip (left) on May 10, 2023(photo Ammar Awad/Reuters)   


These are crazy times. Saturday nights Israelis in their thousands are legitimately off to protests and in-between will shelter in bomb shelters. Addressing craziness in her own way is my dance instructor daughter Keren Kaplan with the non-smelly car.  With the intense dramas playing out on Israel’s national stage, I was  pleasingly diverted to another action occurring on a different stage –  theatre stages in Tel Aviv. There, my daughter’s students of Soul Studio performed a dance choreographed by her called ‘It’s a Very Very Mad World’ and which won first prize in two national dance competitions – ‘I BELIEVE’ at Cinema Cityand the Confederation National Dance (CND) at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre.

Following these spectacular wins, her students qualified to compete in two international competitions abroad – in the U.S.A and Spain. Explains Keren:

 “In a crazy world like ours, we are all dealing with a lot on our shoulders whether  personally or collectively; we are all in this delusional period. What the song is about is very relevant today and in my vision, we live in a kind of circus amidst all this chaos.”

Take a ‘time out’ and log on to enjoy the dance:

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).


  1. David please forward this to CNN and other media stations who question our right to self defense

  2. וואוו וואו איזה ריקוד עוצמתי! כמה שזה רלוונטי להיום

  3. A most insightful and informative article reminding us not to ever forget the common denominator that binds all Israelis – despite their differences in political outlook and affiliation.
    And congratulations to your daughter, Keren Kaplan on her well-deserved first prize awards in two dance competitions. What a magnificent and riveting dance performance!

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