For years, the city of Ashkelon – my birthplace – has been under terrorist fire.
This week I went to visit my family and friends in the city, coping heroically
and stoically with the unceasing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist
organizations on innocent civilians.
During my visit, I found myself in
the absurd position of hearing a Color Red Alert siren in a place in which there
was no bomb shelter. I was forced to lie down on the floor and cover my head.
For a moment I experienced the surreal situation hundreds of thousands of
Israeli citizens find themselves in on a daily basis.
Try to imagine Rahm
Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, walking around his city when suddenly there is a
rain of rockets. Imagine for a moment what would happen if a terrorist
organization launched missiles at Chicago, St. Petersburg, Manchester or
Hamas has for years been firing rockets and mortar shells
indiscriminately at civilians – men, women, children and the elderly, with the
sole intent to kill, wound and destroy. This despite the fact that Israel
withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005, evacuating dozens of flourishing Jewish
settlements. And despite the fact that Israel continues to provide the
Palestinians with water, electricity and humanitarian aid.
These are not
easy days for the citizens of Israel. Hamas and other terrorist groups have
fired more than 1,000 projectiles at Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense
began last Wednesday. Many cities and towns, including Sderot, Ofakim, Kiryat
Malachi, Ashdod, Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are under
Over a million and a half people have become targets, and
unfortunately some have been killed and dozens have been wounded or made
We, the government of Israel, decided: No more! We won’t accept
a situation in which Israeli citizens live in fear and terror. We will not
accept as routine a situation in which children in the South can’t go to schools
We launched Operation Pillar of Defense determined to
put an end to the routine threat on the lives of our citizens.
want to stage a ground invasion of Gaza and continue the war in the South. But
if we have to enter Gaza to protect the citizens of Israel, that’s what we’ll
From our experience, we know that you can’t reach agreements with
terrorist organizations without destroying their capabilities and creating
The citizens of Israel, as always in moments like this, stand
together with determination behind their leadership and the IDF. Unlike Hamas,
which wants to harm civilians, the IDF seeks to harm only terrorists in the
areas from which rockets are fired at Israel.
The Israel Air Force has
carried out more than 1,400 attacks on Gaza, in a surgical, pinpoint and
This is a mission that’s almost impossible, given the
fact that terrorists hide in and fire from populated areas, schools and
There are, however, many who see the pictures from Gaza and
automatically criticize Israel and the IDF, instead of placing the
responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Hamas and the terrorist
organizations. Many don’t understand that Israel’s southern cities are the
international front line in the battle between democracy and fundamentalist
terror, of the struggle for human rights, freedom and democracy.
what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when I welcomed him, asking him to put
the burden of blame and pressure on Hamas. As someone who has been to Sderot in
the past and seen the suffering of the residents of the South with his own eyes,
I said, you must understand that the government of Israel cannot compromise with
the security of its citizens.
I stressed that without guarantees from the
international community, Israel will not stop its military operation, because
people will justifiably ask what prevents the rocket fire from starting
No one can be silent in the face of such a reality, and the
Western world must continue to support Israel’s right of self-defense in its war
against terror. Whoever is silent today cannot complain when the terror reaches
While the front lines of the war on terror are to be found in
Israel’s southern cities, the home front battle is being fought on the Internet,
in hasbara and public opinion across the world. Today, anyone with a keyboard
and a mouse can contribute to our campaign. It is extremely important that
Israel’s positions be supported on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other
We need to unite the citizens of the free world against the
terrorist organizations violating our freedom. Only when we stand together with
determination, militarily and morally, will we be able to win the war and live
in a better world.
The writer is minister for environmental protection
and a Likud MK.