We ran to the air raid shelter to escape Hamas rockets. My six-year-old went to bed terrified more would come

British-born Dr. Natan Slifkin describes what his family went through this weekend

May 07, 2019 14:30

As I was putting my youngest child, age six, to bed last Saturday night, he said to me, “Daddy, what if there is an explosion in the night?”

It broke my heart. That afternoon, we had to rush our children to our bomb shelter. An air-raid siren wailed across the skies of our peaceful home town of Beit Shemesh, in between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.

We were fortunate: no rocket landed in our town. An eighty-year-old woman in the nearby town of Kiryat Gat, and a man in Ashkelon, were less fortunate. They did not make it to shelters and were severely injured.

An editorial in The Guardian once described rockets like these as “useless fireworks” which “have killed hardly anybody” and do not justify a military response.

This is, of course, absurd. Over 30 people have been killed in the barrage of thousands of rockets and mortars that have been launched from Gaza since Israel withdrew. The mortality rate would be vastly higher had people not routinely rushed to bomb shelters.

Nearly two thousand have been injured, and countless others severely traumatized. In Sderot, the town that has born the biggest brunt of the attacks, the rate of PTSD among children is nearly 50 per cent, and there are high rates of depression and miscarriages.

“But why is Israel’s military response always so disproportionate?” many people complain. This is a very strange criticism. When the civilian population of a country is attacked, the proportionate response is one that neutralises the threat.

After the 2,753 fatalities of 9/11, it wasn’t the responsibility of the US to kill 2,753 Taliban fighters, but rather to engage in as much military action as necessary to stop any such further attacks. Israel has a duty to protect its population from attacks, and to take whatever military action will achieve this goal.

The fact that Israel is vastly more powerful than Hamas is completely and utterly irrelevant. Evidently, Israel’s military actions so far have been insufficient.

“But if Israel would just make peace with the Palestinians, none of this would be happening!” say some. Yet this is a claim without any factual or reasonable basis. There were several occasions when Israel offered the Palestinians a state, and the offer was rejected, without any counter-offer.

When even the so-called “moderate” Palestinian Authority leadership refuses to acknowledge the Jewish people’s historic connection to the Land of Israel, and pays stipends to the families of terrorists, how on earth can anyone believe that it’s Israel at fault for the lack of peace?

Furthermore, there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are very explicit about not only wanting a state, but also wanting to exterminate the Jewish population of Israel.

“But Israel should just withdraw from the West Bank anyway!” And then what? Risk facing even more rockets, just as happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza?

In fact, the lesson learned from Gaza, and one reason why much of Israel moved to the right, is this: there is never any circumstance in which Israel can defend its population from attacks without incurring international condemnation. That's because it is impossible to engage in any meaningful military action without causing casualties, often unintended, on the enemy side. And although this is deemed acceptable for US and UK forces and every other country in the world, Israel is unfailingly condemned for it.

Sky News, for example, headlined the weekend’s events as “Six dead in Gaza amid failed Israel ceasefire talks” without mentioning the 220 rockets fired on Saturday which caused Israel’s response.

Accordingly, at the present moment, Israel cannot afford to make any security concessions.

“But what about the innocent people in Gaza who are suffering as a result?” Well, if they support the rule of Hamas, they are not so innocent.

As for the many Gazans who despise Hamas and suffer as a result of everything Hamas has brought about, this is indeed a tragedy. But who is responsible?

First, there is Hamas, which instead of using international aid to help the people of Gaza, spends it on terrorist attacks in order to provoke an Israeli response.

Then there is the international media and global community, which plays into Hamas’s strategy of starting wars that will cause civilian casualties on their own side in order to obtain condemnations of Israel. Anyone who condemns Israel for its response is only encouraging Hamas to fire more rockets.

Meanwhile, I don’t want my children to live in fear of rockets, just because people living comfortable lives in the West are incapable of recognising the responsibility that Israel has, and the steps that are required, in order to stop these attacks.

Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin is the director of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh

May 07, 2019 14:30

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