Saturday, January 03, 2009

A letter from Israel regarding the Gaza tragedy

I have received the following letter from an Israeli citizen, offering a personal view about the tragic events unfolding in Gaza.

Dear family and friends,

I feel that events are such I should once again try and relay to you my thoughts, in order that you will be able to have a better understanding of the situation here. Again, as in many times before, I am dismayed at the lack of proportions in the in-depth information from Israel as opposed to that coming from other sources. Due to this unfortunate state of events, the international community is too frequently exposed to communications which are far from being "even-handed" or fair.

I will try to be as fair as possible, in portraying the very sad situation here. This is the first report I will be sending you, and I would welcome any comments or questions, and would certainly be happy if you thought that this was something you would like to pass on to your friends.

First some questions:

· When was the last time you ran for your life to a shelter to avoid being bombed?

· When was the last time your children were terrorized to the point where they wet their beds even at ages of 6 and 7?

· When was the last time your child demanded that the light stay on all night, and even then told you of his nightmares the next morning - all this on a daily basis?

· When was the last time you realized that your child will need a psychologist to help overcome his/her fears of loud noises and sirens?

· When was the last time your house had a near miss of a rocket fired at you, or worse, had your house crumble under the impact of a mortar shell?

· When was the last time that you could not tend to your crops, because the last time you went out to your fields you were fired on by snipers?

· When was the last time you lost your job because you wanted to stay at home with your family when your town was under attack?

· When was the last time that your child saw your neighbor lying in a pool of blood?

· When was the last time you checked to see if your child's kindergarten had a bomb shelter, and if not you took the child to another kindergarten which had one?

· When was the last time you went with friends to have a drink at a pub and had a suicide bomber blow himself up in front of you?

· When was the last time you made sure your child had an armed escort when he/she went on a school outing?

· When was the last time your government decided to spend over 400 million dollars on bomb shelters for your town?

· When was the last time your neighboring country swore to wipe you off the face of the earth, and does not recognize your right to exist?

· When…..

Now some facts:

· For the last 8 years (yes… eight whole years, which are 96 straight months) , the southern part of Israel (population around 250,000) has had over 22,000 rockets and mortar shells fired into its cities and villages. This is an average of approximately 2500 per year (since January 2008, we have counted over 3000). This means an average of approximately 8 (!!) rockets a day. Can you even imagine such a number?

· There is no child in Sderot under the age of 10, who knows any other existence than that of daily fear of a bomb landing on his home, school, or shopping mall. How would you feel if this happened in your town and to your children?

· Over three years ago, we unilaterally left the Gaza Strip, removed all vestiges of our army, uprooted all the civilian population which lived there, and abandoned all the homes, fields, and industrial complexes. All this without a reciprocal agreement on the side of the Palestinians to cease all hostilities. This action was intended to allow the Palestinians to fulfill their own dream of a sovereign state, without any interference on our part.

· Since June 2008, there has been a "cease-fire" agreement brokered by the Egyptians. The only trouble is that we have "ceased" while the Hammas has "fired" an average of 6 rockets a week (this is their understanding of an agreement). Besides trying to spot the launchers, and pinpoint attacking them if we were able to do so with 100% certainty, and only then, we did not reciprocate in any other way.

· During this period, we restrained ourselves not to hit back. The only recourse we had, when words, agreements, unilateral restraint and requests did not work, was to warn the Hammas government that if they did not stop the rocket attacks which totally disrupted any sort of "normal" existence for our citizens in the region, we would reduce the entry of supplies to the Gaza Strip. However, out of humane considerations, we continued to send urgent supplies, even under fire.

· To this day, we supply 70% of all the electricity in Gaza, and have never stopped this supply, except for one day when the electric plant in Ashdod, which supplies the "juice" to Gaza, was attacked by a suicide bomber. There is no "darkness" in Gaza, whatever is said or shown to the contrary.

· During the three days prior to our attack in Gaza over 200 rockets were fired at southern Israel, mainly at the city of Sderot, but also to many of the agricultural settlements around the Gaza strip – all inside Israel's international borders. This was the response of Hammas to our willingness to sit and discuss the continuation of the so-called "cease-fire" between us.

· Every such attack has had the entire civilian population of these towns and agricultural settlements running as fast as they can for a shelter - women, children, the elderly, sick people, in short, the whole civilian population.

· These rocket and mortar attacks are aimed specifically at civilian concentrations, to kill and injure as many innocent people as possible.

· Countless times over this period, and before, we have deliberated how to combat this situation, and each time we have opted for another concession towards peace, and have responded infrequently and even then at a very specific location from which the rockets were launched

· The fact is that of the hundreds of Palestinians killed over the past 2-3 years, 95% have been terrorists either setting up their rocket launchers , or on their way to an attack on one of the settlements in the region

· Sgt. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted to Gaza by the Palestinian terrorists over 920 days ago, has not been allowed to send or receive letters, the Red Cross has not been allowed to visit him, and he has spent the whole time, close to three years, in a hole somewhere in the Gaza Strip. This is outrageously inhumane.

· During the past ten years, we have signed at least five agreements, in which we requested the same demands that were initiated by the "Quartet" (The USA, Russia, the U.N., and the European Community), namely:

o Recognition of the State of Israel (which all countries of the world have done)

o Cessation of all terrorist activities

In return we would be willing to negotiate for a fair settlement to all the problems between us

· Even though the Palestinian leaders, first Arafat then Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen), signed the agreements, the attacks continued unabated

Now to some comments:

· When we left Gaza, with all the small industrial works and the very modern and sophisticated greenhouses intact, at the request of the world community so that the Palestinians will have the ability to support themselves, they destroyed all of these down to rubble. This has to mean that they had little intention of trying to help their population to self-reliance and the country to some income.

· How can the world sit back for so many years and look upon what was going on in our towns and villages around Gaza, and only become outraged when we finally say: "enough is enough" and hit back?

· What is this nonsense about "excessive force"? For years we have restrained ourselves, we have made every effort to find peaceful solutions, such as those we have in our peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, while we are being shelled on a daily basis. How long can any country stand this? I bet not even Norway, which has grave concerns about our intentions, would stand for this for even one month without retaliating

· As to excessive force, should we send our kids out to throw stones at passing Arab vehicles, as Arab kids do on our roads? Should we sporadically shell cities in the Gaza Strip, just so that our response is "measured" against theirs? Should we recruit maniacs who are willing to commit ritual suicide in Arab restaurants? What are we, as a normal and democratic country, supposed to do? Continuously "understand" that the Palestinian demands should be met so that the world community can finally have some peace in the Middle East? These "salami" tactics will find us in the Mediterranean within five years!

· No. As in any country you are familiar with will do, we will use whatever means we have to achieve peace and quiet for our citizens. If we do not, then are failing our duty as a country to its citizens.

· In addition, since we do not intend to carry out such actions on a regular basis, then on the one time we do strike back, we will do so until the Hammas does not have the will to continue its policy. We have attacked only Hammas installations, and if there was a fair reporting of the events, you would notice that over 90% of all the Palestinian casualties were wearing uniforms. We have tried to be as accurate as possible in our attacks so that we spare the civilian population. We have NEVER targeted civilians, as they have ours

· No one asked Joe Louis to fight all comers with one hand behind his back because he was stronger than his opponents, and no one has asked Michael Jordan to shoot only with his left hand, because he was so much better than all other basketball players.

· We are a country, and we have an army to protect its citizens. Our army has been carefully built so as to be able to answer any threat to our existence. We will use all measures necessary, once all other avenues have been blocked, to thwart this threat.

o The Hammas does not recognize us or our borders.

o The Hammas has sworn to continue to attack us until we drop

o The Hammas gets its weaponry and orders from Iran and the extremist Islam leaders of the world, and will not listen to anyone or any other voice

· We cannot allow this to happen, and cannot allow another Holocaust to our people

· What would you and/or your government do if your border towns were shelled on a regular basis? Sit and wait for the world community to give your neighbor a slap on the hand? I would venture to say that in any Western country, you would hit back after the second or third rocket attack, whether there were casualties or not, irrespective of what the world community says or requests. We have been holding ourselves in restraint for years!

· Barak Obama, when he visited Sderot a year ago, said that if his house, and his girls, were attacked by rockets, he would not stand for it and retaliate

· The Hammas, as part of the radical Islamic groups, is a serious threat not only to Israel, but perhaps even more so to the moderate Arab countries, as well as the Western world. It is inflaming the minds of the Islamic youths, teaching them to hate while not giving them any hope for a future

· During these last few days, we have heard the Egyptian foreign minister and the editor of the official Saudi newspaper, say that the Hammas can only blame itself for what is happening to it now. The other moderate Arab countries have the same sentiments. The Hammas, as the representative of the extremist Islamic groups, is a real and present danger to them and their countries

· What are the ultimate goals of the Hammas? If it is to establish a sovereign state, then three years ago when we left Gaza they had the opportunity to show themselves and the world, that they can do so. We opened all the crossing points to Palestinian workers, assisted Palestinian officials in all the professional activities that a country needs (agriculture, medicine, sanitation, education, etc), and what we got back were suicide bombers and rocket attacks. In this situation, what does any "normal" country do? It closes the border crossings and discontinues its open policy. Would you shake your neighbor's hand, if on a daily basis his dog attacks your child despite your requests from him to rein in his dog?

· If the goal is not to establish a state, then it seems as if is their only aim is the annihilation of Israel. We will not stand for this moment.

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Blogger Sylvia K said...

It is so heartbreaking to read and think of what it would be like if you were there with your own children when they were youngsters. I wish I was smart enough to have answers, I'm not nor will I attempt any sitting here in my safe house with no way to even begin to understand what it's like there. I can only hope, as I'm sure most of us do, that this violence will end soon, that steps can and will be taken to protect those who are so vulnerable. Thank you, Mort, for helping us to see what it is like for the people of Israel.

Saturday, January 03, 2009 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Thank you for posting this, Mort.
The pain of reading this has been excrutiating but we need to know what is happening in Israel.

Any sensible person realizes that the Israeli people really just want peace and to be left to raise their children and grow their country.

My wonderful orthopedist emigrated to Israel 40 years ago to help with the casualties of the problems there. He was a man of excellent conscience who wouldn't have put his family at risk if he didn't feel Israel was a worthy cause.

That the U.N. refuses to do anything about it is unconscionable. That the moderate Arab nations have not stood up to the bullies is also unconscionable. The first time I saw a video of Hammas goose-stepping in parade formation, all I could think was that Hitler's legacy is being carried on by people he would have sent to his ovens. Sad.

I have the Israelis in my thoughts and prayers. I also hope that Obama does something to help them -- fast!

Again, thank you!

Saturday, January 03, 2009 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

If any group of terrorists swore to eliminate our country and attacked us on a daily basis you can bet our population would be up in arms and ready to fight back.

I do not understand people who blame Israel. Israel has shown great restraint up until now. Yes, more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis, but Hammas brought this on themselves. They certainly cast the first stone and should have known the might of the Israeli army would someday have a day of reckoning.

Never again will the Jewish people suffer another Holocaust.

Sunday, January 04, 2009 7:36:00 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Mort. I have copied it so that I will have it in print form to refer to. It is a horrendous situation and I don't see any answer as long as the Hammas are in control...but I pray for a solution.

Sunday, January 04, 2009 4:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he said, she said and the battle of words continues while people on both sides die.

everyone is an armchair leader, political philosopher.

I blame this for that, because before that, there was this, but that happened before and because of that this happened.

like and out of control car speeding down hill. All this will end one day...poorly.

two sides with closed minds, two sides with jabbering mouths, two sides with blinders, two sides with piles of bodies.

Monday, January 05, 2009 9:20:00 AM  
Blogger Norma said...

Thanks for posting this. It is very heartfelt and real. On this side of the conflict, we just have no hint of what the Jews and Palestinians are going through, but the US press seems bent on painting the Israelis as negative as possible.

Monday, January 05, 2009 6:32:00 PM  
Blogger donna said...

Well, Israelis are winning 100 to 1 right now, so I guess they have their revenge.

Fat lot of good it will do them, too. Just creating a whole new generation of Palestinians who hate them. Good job.

Monday, January 05, 2009 7:28:00 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Ruth Adar said...

Thank you for posting this, Mort. I think that if we are going to get past the armchair quarterbacking, we need to hear about the lives of people who are affected.

One of the things that mystifies me is that Hamas seems to do a find job of smuggling munitions in via the tunnels to Egypt -- why are they choosing to bring in weapons, rather than things the Palestinian people need?

Seems to me that until and unless the leadership of the Palestinians, (Hamas, Fatah, whoever) is willing to recognize the right of Israel to exist, we will be stuck with this horrible stalemate.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 3:11:00 AM  
Blogger Rinkly Rimes said...

As an absolute outsider, an Australian agnostic, the trouble in the Middle East seems unfathomable. But one thing strikes me ..... if the Palestinians had the weapons that the Israelis have they would be doing just as much damage.

Monday, January 12, 2009 2:27:00 AM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

I still don't understand religious wars or how they justify wars and killing the innocent.

Great letter heart wrenching...for all the innocent..

Dorothy from grammology

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Re: your statement:
"For the last 8 years (yes… eight whole years, which are 96 straight months) , the southern part of Israel (population around 250,000) has had over 22,000 rockets and mortar shells fired into its cities and villages"
FYI: Statistics from BICOM on 24/09/2009 re Qassams, etc.:
Since 2001, total number of identified rocket and mortar shell hits: 9,145

Paul Hershfield
Culver City, CA

Saturday, November 07, 2009 12:36:00 PM  

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