”We do know when the Gaza missiles will hit”

Sometimes in animated movies, there are ghosts who go around scaring people. That’s all they live for, or are dead for, to scare someone. I’m scary, therefore I am.

Depending on where in Israel you live, you have between 15 seconds and two minutes to find shelter when the missile-alarm goes off. Or between 15 seconds and two minutes to live. No melodrama, that’s just the way it is until the next cease-fire. If you don’t have a “safe” room in your apartment, or if you can’t find other shelter in the allotted time, if you are hit by a missile, you die. Mira Scharf, 26, mother of three, died last week when a rocket hit her apartment in Kiryat Malachi. Her husband and children were injured and could not attend her funeral.

Nature enthusiasts who try to raise money for endangered spieces always note how it is easier to raise funds for cute and furry animals that for creatures with small eyes and scaly skin. That is, everything depends on appearance, not intrinsic value.In Iran, 81 people have been executed by hanging by the regime in the past ten days. The executed Iranians may not be an endangered spieces, but they are comparable with the animals no one gets upset about.

In Syria, our northern neighbour, close to 40,000 people, combatants and civilians, have been killed in the past 20 months. Over 400,000 Syrians have escaped their war-torn country and are currently refugees. You didn’t know that, because Syrians are another speices of no interest. They don’t even have oil. In Gaza, on Tuesday, 6 people were summarily executed on a public square, and their corpses were then mutilated by the crowd. Unlike the unfortunate victims of Israel’s counter-meassures, these people will forever remain nameless. In the current conflict between Israel and Gaza, the world is more interested in the victims on one side than on the other. What, we’re not cute enough?

On Friday afternoon I was walking to synagogue with my youngest daughter, who will be eleven this week. Halfway there, the missile-siren went off, for the first time in 22 years in Jerusalem. Although the radio constantly broadcasts instructions what to do in case of a missile attack, the alarm caught me by surprise, and it took me some seconds to understand what is happening. Then we ran to hide behind an adjacent shelter. We actually heard the impact of the rocket, although it landed many kilometers away. On Tuesday it happened again. I was in the car with same said youngest daughter, on our way to buy ingredients for her birthday-cake. This time I reacted more quickly. I left the car and we ran in to a hotel we happened to be passing. As instructed, we waited in the stairwell, away from windows that could shatter. After a few minutes we could go back out and continue with our day. In the south of Israel over one million citizens are sitting in their shelters since more than a week. Missiles are raining down over them like cats and dogs. There is very considerable damage to buildings and infrastructure, not to talk about all those who most literally suffer from shell-shock or physical injuries.  And some, alas, are dead.

I have no respect for the Hamas. They are bullies, dictators, terrorists, brave show-offs to the camera, callously sacrificing not only the lives of their own civilians to score propaganda points, but also making bad peace-time decisions for their citizens. I don’t know what the going rate of a rocket is, but the over 1500 rockets so far that Hamas has fired and keeps firing against Israel in the last week must have cost many, many millions of dollars. Without even stopping to think where that money comes from, spending an unlimited amount of resources on arms, while complining about the abject poverty in Gaza, makes no sense. In the same vein, if Gaza is under seige and there is no way to get in or out, how come Hamas has such a huge supply of long-range missiles made in Iran?

Hamas leader Ismail Hania came out of his hiding-place yesterday to accompany visiting Arab ministers as they called on the recently injured at the local Shifa hospital. That’s a nice gesture, but Hania and all of the Hamas leadership have been safely holed up since the beginning of the violence, which they started by firing a huge number of rockets at civilians in Israel. Unless there are visiting dignitaries, the Hamas leadership is busy covering their behinds, not giving moral support to their fellow Gazan’s, who’s lives they so easily offer up.

As my friend pointed out today, the possible reason why Hamas started firing from Gaza in the first place seems to be the secular Palestinian leader of the West-Bank, Mahmoud Abbas’ upcoming steps towards Palestinian statehood. The Hamas doesn’t want a Palestinian state, run by the secular leadership competition. So, to hell with the Gazan’s, bring on another war that will deflect attention from the issue of Palestinian statehood.

The rockets fired from Gaza can hit the southern half of Israel. It’s like a game, you never know where the next one will go. Many rockets are intercepted by the Israeli anti-missile system Iron Dome and countless lives have been saved that way. Not only on the Israeli side, less victims on our side means less counter-meassures. I don’t think the Israeli army thinks like the Hamas. Before bombing Hamas installations and arm-supplies famously kept amongst civilian apartments, the Army made 50,000 automated phonecalls to local residents, asking them to evacuate immediately. The Israeli airforce who so far has done all of the fighting drops flyers on the Palestinian Gaza population in an attempt to direct them away from danger. It’s been reported that the Gazan’s use the flyers to wrap falafel. Once again, there are 120 truckloads of supplies waiting on the Israeli side of the border to be delivered to Gaza. The Hamas won’t let them in.

We do know when the Gaza missiles will hit, though. They are consistently synchronized to a few minutes before the news, in order to have maximum terrorising effect. That, like so much else, is all about appearance.  Around noon on Wednesday a bus blew up in Tel Aviv. 17 people were injured. In Gaza there was much shooting in the air and celebrations in the street. Other than to the 17 people whos lives were just changes, the bus bomb makes no real difference.

But Hamas is celebrating because they scared us. 1-0 to the enemy! They do scare me a lot, but I’m more scared for them than of them.


Noomi Stahl