Neve Ilan! That is the name of my small community in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem. While I couldn't hear it while driving on the highway, an air raid siren had sounded in Neve Ilan and other places nearby. My wife went to sit in our stairwell, as with the lack of any other shelter, it is supposedly the safest area of our house. And then she heard booms.
The rockets launched from Gaza were intercepted in the sky over our area by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system. The Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets at Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, and even at Haifa. But when the rockets exploded in the sky over my home, it was a bit frightening, to say the least.
Israel is at war; there is no other way to describe it. I live in a relatively safe area of the country, and there have only been a few rocket attacks. I can't imagine what it's like to live in Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon or other places near the Gaza Strip which are constantly under fire. Last night cars went up in flame after a direct hit in Ashdod. A house suffered damage in Beer Sheva. Luckily, no lives have yet been lost.
|Direct hit on gas station in Ashdod, screen capture Channel 2 News|
How can Israel not respond to such attacks on its civilian population? The Israeli Air Force has been pummeling Hamas targets and terrorists throughout the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, as in any war, innocent Palestinian civilians have been injured and killed in the Israeli air strikes. I am certainly sorry for that, as we are not at war with the Palestinians. We are at war with Hamas, an organization considered 'terrorist' by both the Israeli and American governments, and which still lists in its charter a call for Israel's destruction.
Yesterday morning, a siren sounded in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan as I was working in my office. Along with my colleagues, I headed into the nearest safe room, a room with no windows and reinforced walls. From within the room, we heard the boom of an interception over south Tel Aviv. Remnants of the rocket fell from the sky, landing in the lot of a gas station.
A few minutes later, I returned to my desk.
Life goes on in Israel, despite the rocket attacks. My wife and I go to work each day; our children go to their jobs; our grandchildren go to their kindergartens. In Ashdod on Tuesday night, a bride and groom stood under their wedding canopy when a siren went off. A rocket fell in the parking lot outside, causing some panic, but the wedding celebrations continued.
It is safe to visit Israel, despite the war. Stores remain open; restaurants are busy. Tourists, like their Israeli hosts, are advised to stay tuned to the sirens and safety instructions. Heading quickly for shelter when the sirens sound does indeed saves lives. And life continues.
How will this end? I don't have any solutions and all previous efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have collapsed. At this moment, Israeli troops are camped outside the Gaza Strip, ready for a possible ground offensive. Military operations of that type will undoubtedly lead to further destruction and retaliation, and loss of life on both sides, but then again, this is war.
And, as I learned when Hamas launched rockets at my home in Neve Ilan yesterday evening, no place is truly safe.