Reflections from Israel amidst another round of hostilities
By Jonathan Feldstein
I have started and stopped writing this multiple times. From last Wednesday until the ceasefire Sunday night, Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza supported by the Islamist regime in Iran, have fired 1469 rockets at Israeli communities. There have been massive barrages of 100 or more at a time, multiple times. Throughout this operation, Israel had targeted and taken out both leaders of the Islamic Jihad terror organization, and much (but not enough) of their infrastructure. For the most part Israel’s Iron Dome has successfully intercepted most of these, specifically ones directed at densely populated areas. There have been injuries, significant damage, and as of last night one woman and a Palestinian worker from Gaza killed and 10 injured when their building took a direct hit.
I stopped and re-started writing this article multiple times because of repeated talk of a cease fire. But each time one thinks the rockets might stop, the terrorists let off another barrage. Living in Israel, you develop an instinct as to whether there will be a cease fire or not, protracted rockets and Israeli response of taking out terrorists, or the risk of escalation and a ground operation. Of course, had 10 people been killed and not “just” injured yesterday, the calculations would be revisited, and all bets would be off.
But not one person should be killed, and the firing of one rocket at a civilian population is criminal, much less hundreds. If they can’t be stopped yet, they should face the consequences. Palestinian Arabs in Gaza should be sending thank you notes to Israel, not firing rockets.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a senior Israeli security officer about the situation in Gaza. “We know what kind of humus they are dipping their pita into,” he assured me confidently. It was funny, albeit seeming a bit arrogant. But how accurate both figuratively and literally.
What we have seen in the past days, as well as in other recent anti-terrorist operations in Gaza, is that he wasn’t just being funny. This week we have seen IDF operations that have been strategic, tactical and surgical. When you look at the pictures of the buildings in which Palestinian Arab terror leaders have been targeted and taken out, it looks as if someone came with a big industrial scalpel, cut open a careful hole in the side of a building, and carefully extracted the tumors, leaving the rest of the building and its residents shaken, but intact. The precision is remarkable.
Sadly, some of the terror leaders have chosen to sleep at home with their wives and children which means that some of their wives and children have also been killed. Sadly, the wives and children didn’t leave their terrorist husbands/fathers to protect themselves.
All this week’s IDF operations have indicated that Israel has incredible intelligence on top of the surgical precision. If I were an Arab terror leader, I’d be looking for another profession, unless I really believed the misogynist rhetoric about 72 virgins waiting in heaven. Certainly, Israel has developed a world-class intelligence network that’s the envy of many, as it helps to save lives not just in Israel but around the world.
A case and point is that Israel successfully killed one particular terrorist leader in a ‘safe’ house demonstrating that the terrorist leaders are not safe anywhere. Fortunately, he saved his wife and children, though they are known to hide behind women and children which is immoral, and a war crime. In one case this week, a terror leader who had been tracked for two days had his life saved when the pilot commanding the operation noticed two children. In this case, the word “abort” saved two children’s lives.
Terrorists know that Israel will avoid firing at them and their infrastructure around civilians. So, they hide themselves, their weapons, their infrastructure in, under, and around residential areas, schools, mosques, hospitals, and UN facilities. But Israel’s level of precision has increased and the phrase “you can run but you cannot hide” is a warning that every terrorist in Gaza should heed.
Palestinian Arabs should be thanking Israel because its Iron Dome saves Palestinian Arabs. Had Israel not had the need, ingenuity, and priority to create something never before imagined to track and intercept short and medium range rockets, the terrorists’ rockets would surely wreak much more havoc. Were there to be more Israeli casualties, Israel would be forced to respond more forcefully. That would mean more Palestinian Arab casualties. But the Iron Dome that was invented and built and is deployed to save Israeli lives, also saves Arab lives, while allowing terrorists to inflict damage with relative impunity.
But Israel should never have to do this to begin with. The theory that goes that the rockets will stop only when the cost to the terrorists (and the population they have hijacked) suffer more than they are prepared. That means devastation. Yet it’s probably true. Eventually in a day, or week or a month, there will be a cease fire. Until the next round.
Speaking of cost, the expense Israel incurs to keep Israelis (and Palestinian Arabs) safe is some $50,000 per Iron Dome interception. If only half of the 1000+ fired this week required being intercepted, that’s $20 million. Astounding.
As I was finishing writing this, our family was startled by the piercing noise of an air raid siren in our community south of Jerusalem. We are dozens of miles from Gaza. The terrorists are upping the ante and widening the range to draw Israel into the conflict deeper. It’s personal and horrific.
Gazans should be rising up to take back their society from the terrorists who hijacked their lives. They can choose to suffer just by the consequences of being around, behind and under the stranglehold of the terrorists, or they can fight back. When Israel withdrew all its communities, military, businesses, and even graves from Gaza in 2005, they had an opportunity to build something. All they have achieved are four “D’s – death, danger, destruction and destitution.
They should be thanking Israel and seek to live in a society that can be good neighbors rather than mortal enemies.
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, NorthJersey.com, Algemeiner Jornal, The Jewish Press, major Christian websites and more.
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