I dropped my kids off at school this morning and the thought foremost in my mind was how lucky I am to be doing this today, on a day when thousands of school kids in Israel, who should be in their classrooms and at their desks, are at home instead. The Home Front Command closed the schools in all towns within 40km Gaza as rockets continue to bombard Southern and Central Israel. This gives me pangs of what I can only compare to survivor guilt. I live just north of the center, not near any area that is attractive to the Hamas as a target, and our schools are open. I can work while my kids study at school. When they come home, they can go to their after school activities and walk around freely. Not so elsewhere.
Hamas is holding half of Israel hostage. The barrage of rockets that has intensified over the past days is merely a continuation of the constant bombings that began in 2005. Since then terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel, mainly into the south. So many of us in Israel have tried to express this to the rest of the world. Imagine your neighboring country launching 8,000 rockets into your territory for no reason other than the fact that you live there. It’s hard to believe.
What’s even harder to believe is the indifference of the Western world. Let’s take a look at The New York Times today. On the front page there’s a picture of IDF reserves in their tanks, waiting on the border, not yet engaged. On the inside page, a large picture of an Gazan woman and her daughter taking cover during Israeli Air Force bombings of Hamas targets. Here’s the message from the NYT – Israel – big and strong with lots of tanks and soldiers; Gaza – weak and frail with terrified women and children. No pictures of Israeli children in shelters, no pictures of heavily armed Hamas fighters or their rocket launchers, no pictures of blood-stained floors of Israeli apartments where innocent civilians were killed and maimed by Hamas rockets. Israel is expected to take the rocket fire lying down, literally. The world is OK with seeing innocent civilians lying face down in the streets of Ashdod or Sderot when they don’t have enough time to reach shelter within the minuscule 15-second window between siren and impact.
I don’t wish this situation on anyone, but sometimes I do imagine what would happen if citizens of the US or the UK for example, had to live with seeing their children face down on the sidewalks as rockets fly overhead at a nearby apartment block or having them cooped up at home weeks on end because it’s not safe for schools to be open. I don’t take it for granted that my children are safe and at school. What about you?