It’s unlikely that an American can relate, even in his or her imagination, to what life is like in Israel for those who live under a constant threat from enemies who also happen to be their neighbors. The stress of never knowing if, or when, you or a member of your family might be blown to bits by a suicide bomber or a Kassam rocket blast would drive most of us in the Western world insane. This intense stress is engraved on the faces of young and old alike who live in an environment where surviving until the next sunrise is viewed as a miracle.
The people of Israel — especially those living in southern Israel — know all too well the dreaded sound of the red alert siren. That warning, which has occurred over 8,000 times since the Gaza disengagement in 2005, sends people running in a panic and calling out, “It’s another Kassam! It’s another Kassam!” From toddlerhood onward, the people of southern Israel know that when they hear the red alert warning blaring over their public address systems, they have only about 20 seconds, at best, to reach a safe shelter.
When the bomb finally hits the ground and explodes, its deadly contents and the shrapnel from the bomb itself, spew in every direction tearing through steel vehicles and concrete walls and ripping through flesh and bone like a warm knife through butter. The case-hardened steel nails often packed inside of these bombs are more likely than not coated in rat poison. Therefore, if the impact from the shrapnel doesn’t kill, the rat poison will enter the bloodstream of its victims and finish off the job, horribly and painfully.
The physical, emotional and psychological trauma inflicted upon those who must live under the daily threat of Kassam rockets raining down at any moment, has ravaged the people of southern Israel. There’s an entire generation of Israeli children growing up believing it’s normal to hear a siren and run for shelter. These innocent children are living without the sense of safety and security so essential to normal development and this is manifesting itself in a number of ways, one of which is an epidemic of children who stutter and who are completely withdrawn — fearful of attachment.Back in May 2006 when I accepted the challenge to promote Operation Life Shield, an organization that provides portable bomb shelters to besieged towns in Israel, I never imagined I would be one of the beneficiaries of the safety these shelters provide. A total of 50 bomb shelters have been placed in southern Israel to date, and they’ve saved my life more than once. In particular, the most recent occasion stands out.
On January 12, 2009 while in Sderot leading my Israel Always humanitarian team from America, the dreaded red alert siren began blaring its warning of an incoming Kassam rocket launched by Hamas from Gaza. At the time, the team and I were setting up a camera and other equipment to film a TV news report. I called to my cameraman to leave the camera behind and let it roll as we ran for the bomb shelter. We made it just a second or two before the blast.
My technician and I then exited the shelter, not realizing that another rocket was right on the heels of the first. When it exploded, the heat and percussion literally knocked us off our feet and slammed us into the shelter walls, knocking the wind out of me. I was sure I had broken a rib or punctured a lung, but fortunately I was only badly bruised in my upper chest and one of my lungs. Had the bomb landed only a few feet closer, my cameraman and I would have been badly injured—possibly even killed.
About 20 minutes later, I was with others looking at the site where the first blast had occurred. While examining it, another alarm sounded — and once again, everyone ran with all their might. This time, there was no shelter within quick reach, and that knowledge was terrifying. Knowing I had only about 20 seconds before impact, I started a mental countdown. With no safe place in sight, I took shelter in the entrance of a building—curling into a fetal position and praying for a positive outcome. After the blast, I was told by local residents that had the rocket landed close to the building in which I and others were huddled, the bomb blast would have shredded us — and the building — like confetti.For nearly 10 years I’ve been writing, broadcasting and giving speeches about the atrocities inflicted against Israel by radical Muslim terrorists. I’ve always felt as though I was doing a fairly good job of expressing the true feelings of the victims in Israel who had experienced suicide bombings and Kassam and Katusha rocket attacks. But now that I’ve personally experienced this horror, I know that no words can adequately describe the unrelenting trauma and pain the people of Israel have been suffering as a result of the barbaric acts of radical Islamic terrorists who are determined to wipe Israel and the Jews off the face of the earth. These terrorists are continually scheming and devising ways and methods to unleash violence upon Israel — and Israel has been facing this terror with little help from the rest of the world. Believing she must appease world leaders who have established rules of conduct for her which are much more stringent than for other nations of the world, tiny Israel somehow manages to prevail against her enemies even when she’s outnumbered and outgunned — even when those enemies have the backing of much larger countries and come at her as a collective force.
Israel has contributed vastly to the world through innumerable technological advancements in agriculture, medicine, science and the arts to name only a few. Nonetheless, the world at large continues to hate Israel — and this hatred is spreading like cancer throughout the Middle East. Radical leaders of countries such as Iran openly threaten Israel. I’m even concerned that Israel may need to steel herself for the possibility that her historic friend and ally — the United States of America — may not always be there for her.
It’s essential that Israel take the bull by the horns in defense of her people and do what’s necessary to protect her citizens from terrorist aggression just as we here in the United States would do if we were under attack from one of our neighboring countries. In my humble opinion, it’s long past time for Israel to once and for all eliminate all the Hamas leaders. Doing half the job and then pulling back only allows them to regroup and replenish their weapons.
Hopefully, the next prime minister of Israel will have what it takes to stand strong against Israel's enemies ... perhaps even to give Iran a little gift of its own: an Iranian sky filled with Israeli fighter jets knocking the legs out from under Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, no matter how hidden they are from the eyes of the world.
Israel’s war on terrorism can be won only with an unequivocal commitment to finish the job.
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