Something has gone horribly wrong here in Israel.
How did we ever get to
a point in this country where the South, including Beersheba, Sderot, Ashkelon,
Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuvia, Ofakim, Azrikam, Gan Yavne, Gedera and
Ashdod were hit by more than 100 Grad rockets this past weekend? How did we ever
get to a point in this country where we put the safety of our citizens at the
mercy of international approval – with an Israeli defense official proclaiming
on Monday morning that “lack of international support” was a reason that “Israel
could not open a larger offensive” against the terrorists in Gaza.
tell you how I think we got here.
We got here by hiding the truth in
Since the last “cease-fire” in 2008, the South has been
assaulted by over 800 Kassams, mortars and Grads.
How many times have you
heard or read in the media, “No injuries or damage reported,” or “The missile
landed in an open area,” or “Rockets disturb relative calm in South”? When did
we ever get to a point where “relative calm” meant Israeli men, women and
children being hit by over 800 missiles – or that missiles being fired at our
citizens is a “disturbance”? Would any other country tolerate even a single
missile fired at its citizens? A study as far back as 2008 revealed that
“between 75 and 94 percent of Sderot children aged 4-18 exhibit symptoms of
post-traumatic stress.” Each time a missile is fired at Israel, there is
emotional or physical injury to our citizens.
We got here by accepting
the farcical nonsense that the IDF is doing something to stop the rocket
Sure, the government has ostensibly embarked upon a campaign of tit
for tat. Hamas fires a rocket at us, and we drop a bomb on them – except that we
really don’t drop a bomb on them. We bomb the smuggling tunnels, rocket-making
factories, and any empty building the IAF can find. How successful has that
been? By the IDF’s own estimate, Hamas has now smuggled in over 10,000 rockets
We got here by the IDF’s coming up with every conceivable
rationalization not to act at all. Some of the most absurd rationalizations have
been the most recent. On August 3, it was reported that two rockets struck the
Lachish area. In response, the IAF hit the requisite empty buildings in Gaza. No
sooner had this happened, however, than IDF spokesmen quickly excused the rocket
attack by rationalizing that “the increase in rocket fire is Hamas’s way to vent
its frustration [over] being left out of the Palestinian Authority’s current
plans to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations in
Does the IDF really believe that Hamas’s continuing assault
on innocent children, women and men is a way for its members to “vent their
frustration” with their fellow Palestinians? I thought that Hamas simply wanted
to see Jews and Israel wiped off the face of the planet. Next we’ll have the IDF
blaming Hamas missile attacks on the price of cottage cheese in Beit
We got here by the IDF’s being unprepared to do anything. On
Saturday night, after a day of unrestricted rocket fire against Israel, causing
death and destruction – with more firing on Sunday morning – the IDF did
nothing. Instead, we had an army spokesman coming up with the gem that
“deterrence must be established before the situation spirals out of
But the IDF has no idea about how to deter anything.
we supposed to feel comforted that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of
General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz held security consultations all day this past
Saturday “to draw up potential responses and courses of actions?” Where has the
IDF staff been for the last three years? Weren’t the events of the weekend
completely predictable by your average first-grader? The IDF suddenly seems
paralyzed by indecision and beset with passive and failed leadership among its
We got here by hiding behind technology and letting the IDF
hide behind technology. Whatever wondrous results the Iron Dome produces, it is
a form of passive protection. We let Hamas and Hezbollah accumulate and fire
missiles at us, and we intercept as many as possible. Are lives saved?
Undoubtedly. Is the terror lessened? Not at all – as the sirens blare, we run to
hide in our bomb shelters or crouch behind walls.
Technology is no
substitute for boots on the ground – or a comprehensive, well-planned aerial
We got here by buying into and perpetuating the idiotic notion
that every group except Hamas is responsible for the rocket fire emanating from
Gaza. Al- Tawhid wal-Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad,
and a hundred other groups: Suddenly all of these are “radical,” but Hamas is
not. How nauseating it was to read on Sunday that Hamas was now trying to get
Islamic Jihad to stop firing missiles at the South. This is classic good cop-bad
cop – with Hamas astonishingly being portrayed as the good cop wanting peace.
This nonsense has to stop.
We got here by trying to be politically
correct and adopting the thinking of human rights organizations that want us to
assume responsibility for the “poor” people of Gaza. Late last month, the army
stressed its ongoing efforts to help Palestinian farmers export their produce to
European markets. So this is how the IDF now spends its time? How proud we are
to say that we drop leaflets and make phone calls in advance of our attacks
against terrorists. How morally superior that makes us feel. Yet every time we
do this, we help the terrorists escape, ultimately at the bloody expense of our
own citizens. No matter how many leaflets we drop and how much we help the
Palestinians, our attempts to ingratiate ourselves in the arena of world opinion
Finally, we got here by unilaterally withdrawing from
Gaza. Whatever else you want to say, the settlements in northern Gaza were a
buffer between the rest of Gaza and Israel, and to have left without having any
security guarantees in return was a gross demonstration of weakness.
me conclude by telling you what many of us here in the South think should
happen, beginning with what we think should never happen. Any thought that
Israel should ever retake Gaza is absurd in the extreme. Nevertheless, the
situation here in the South cannot stay the same or go back to the way it was
before Thursday. Either Israel has to go in on the ground and root out the
leaders of Hamas, or Israel must discard its notions of political correctness
and relentlessly attack Gazan terrorists from the air and sea. No matter what
course we take, the European Union, Arab League and United Nations – and their
friends – will condemn Israel for defending Israeli citizens. But it is time for
this country to broaden its perspective beyond Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and rally
to the defense of its people here in the South.
The writer is a retired
faculty member of the University of California-Davis who divides his time
between Ashdod and Davis. He blogs at www.israelstreet.org.