It’s hard to find one word to describe what this war feels like. Such a mix of emotions. You see the pictures of the death and destruction in Gaza and you feel horrible – though none of us are exactly mourning the death of Hamas bigwig Nizar Rayyan. You talk to your friends in the south of the country and you feel guilty you aren’t doing more to help them. You practically beg them to come north and stay with you – not for them – for you, so you feel you are doing something.
I must say, the mood in central Israel – where we are lucky enough not to have our daily routines disrupted is one of calm, sober determination. And my friends in the south also seem impressively calm when I speak to them on the telephone. They are trying to be brave, even those who have never experienced anything like this before.
There is none of the sense of shock that we felt in Lebanon 2 when missiles began falling on Haifa and Tiberias and Rosh Pina. This time, there was preparation – carefully leaked stories were appearing in the Israeli press weeks before this operation started regarding the range of Hamas capabilities. This time, we weren’t surprised. We were prepared this time – not that being prepared to see your friends and family huddled in shelters fearing for their lives makes things a lot easier..
By hitting these major cities – Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva, Yavne – the Hamas couldn’t be doing a better job of convincing Israel that it has to dig in its heels and not give up until the message is clear – we can’t do this anymore. We won’t play this game. The Kassam and now the Grad missile threat isn’t just pesky anymore. It’s inhuman and unbearable.
The image that keeps coming to mind is a man holding a gun being taunted by an angry twisted kid with an unlimited supply of darts. At first, he teasingly tosses the darts at the soldier’s feet gently. Then gradually he throws them harder, drawing blood, creating more serious wounds. And then, eventually, getting bolder, he starts aiming for the abdomen, private parts, even the man’s eyes, looking to do real damage. After the man asks, requests, demands, tries to negotiate, swats, kicks – does everything in his power to stop this constant barrage, which is clearly taking place in the hopes that he will eventually bleed to death. At some point – no matter how calm, civilized and intelligent this man might be – the pain is going to be too much. As unfair, as ‘disproportionate’ as it may be, he’s going to pull out his gun and use it. And that’s the point Israel has reached. Enough. We’ve had enough.
Let me say it again – we see the pictures from Gaza. Trust me, there is no joy, elation, or victory in the Israeli streets when we see crushed buildings and bleeding civilians. Not even a little. We are grim, we are sad, we so wish that it hadn’t had to come to this. But the vast, vast majority of us just don’t see any other way right now.
We just can’t live like this anymore. Take a look at this video and ask yourself if you could.
By the way, nobody is taking any chances. Despite the fact that, to the best of the IDF’s knowledge – Hamas doesn’t have rockets capable of reaching them – people located points north of Ashdod and Yavne – in Rishon Le Zion and in Tel Aviv are cleaning out their shelters. Just in case.