As reader Jean Vercors remarked to me yesterday, of the Hamas missile which hit his home town of Ashdod at the weekend:
"Qassams are typically homemade—70 pounds of steel inserted with nails & bolts, as in the bombs used in suicide attacks.
Hamas is believed to have stockpiled several hundred Qassam rockets with an average range of 6 miles. The group also possesses Grad rockets, which they imported to the Gaza Strip. These are rockets of Russian design, similar to the Katyusha. The Grad has a range of 12.75 miles, making it the rocket with the longest range currently available to the Palestinians."I'm both proud and humble to be able present the following moving and insightful glimpse of life for Israelis in range of the threat of Hamas missiles.
I'm grateful to its author, Leonie Lachmish, of Mercaz Shapira, for giving me permission, via reader Shirlee, to post it. (And, needless to add, hat tip to Shirlee for bringing it to my attention!)
Leonie, incidentally. is the mother of Shani Lachmish, who's not unfamiliar to many Americans and others through the Ein Prat Fountainheads clips on YouTube. Shani is at present in New York volunteering in a Jewish community hard hit by hurricane Sandy, as part of the delegation of the Ein Prat Leadership Academy Alumni.
Like Leonie, I hope the following reaches a wide audience. (Other bloggers, please link to this.)
Writes Leonie Lachmish:
'We live between Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi in a small kind of "village" for want of a better word ("yishuv" in Hebrew). This means that we get the sirens when rockets are sent in the direction of Kiryat Malachi and also hear Ashkelon and Ashdod sirens and booms from a distance. Over the past few days, there have been between two and seven sirens per day (and night). In the cities, there are tens of sirens (and attacks or successful interceptions) per day and through the night. Families without fortified rooms have to run to a safe area. In Sderot, they have 15 seconds to do that, here we have 40 seconds.
Try and imagine: How are elderly or infirm, handicapped or bedbound people meant to make it to a safe place? Fast? Maybe 20 times a day?
Or: 2am – waking up, grabbing your children and running out of your front door down a few flights of stairs...
Or: stopping your car and trying to release all the children's safety belts (same children may be hysterical from the siren because they know to expect the explosion any second) and run to shelter. In 15 seconds. Or 40 seconds.
How long should a country ask its civilians to put up with that? How long would you put up with that for?
Living under the threat of rocket fire is not a bowl of cherries by any means, it certainly runs havoc with any kind of routine or normal lifestyle.
Like, can I dare go into the shower? Where are our children at any given moment (especially people with young children)? Dare I venture going in to my doctor's appointment in Ashkelon or Ashdod? If there's a siren on my way to the supermarket, will I stop the car and lie on the ground with my hands over my head – these are the instructions if you are nowhere near a building to take refuge in.
These are times of stress, tension and confusion. Many homes have taken direct hits, the families in them saved only because they ran out in time or had a fortified, safe room and made sure they reached it on time.
Our situation is nowhere near as traumatic as that of our friends in kibbutzim on the border with Gaza or the cities Sderot, Netivot (where my husband, Haim, works), Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Kiryat Malachi (where three people were killed by a direct hit on their way to a safe area on Thursday: Aharon Smajda, 49, who was helping his neighbours down the stairs with their young children, Itzik Amsalem, 24, and Mirah Sharf, 27, who had returned to Israel from New Delhi where she and her husband were Chabad (Lubavitch) emissaries, in order to give birth in Israel. Her husband and other children are wounded). This news is heartbreaking for Israelis and a reason for celebration for our enemies. They rejoice in death and violence, we rejoice in life and saving life.
Who needs Jews as best friends? We're the best enemy you could hope for! A new line they can use instead of "Some of my best friends are Jews, how about "Some of my best enemies are Jews" or "With enemies like Jews, who needs friends?" The terrorists can go to mosque and funerals of terrorist chiefs knowing they won't be harmed even though we know exactly who they are and where they are.
Did you know that the IDF made thousands of phone calls to Gaza households and dispatched thousands of fliers in Gaza warning people to stay away from where the terrorists are because we are targeting them?
Do people in the west realize that the Jewish enemy cares more about the welfare of the population of Gaza than the cynical, cruel terrorist entity who is supposedly meant to be taking care of them?
Do people understand that if and when civilians are hurt in Gaza it is because all our attempts to protect them have been thwarted mainly by the insistence of their 'protectors' to act from densely populated areas and specifically mosques, kindergartens, schools, you get the picture?
Do they understand that misrepresenting Israel in the world means strengthening the oppression of women in Gazan society and the abuse of children, being brought up with hatred 24/7 on TV, in schools, trained to be shahidim (martyrs - i.e, mass murderers of the Israeli or western enemy) as an ideal
I see a demonstration of "Jewish Homosexuals and Lesbians for Gaza" and rub my eyes. Where is the only place in the Middle East where Jews / homosexuals / lesbians can live freely or live at all (let alone if you're both!) ? Gaza perhaps?
Even after 12 years of living under fire, my friend, Esther, in Kibbutz Alumim on the border, says "Can't we brainwash them with 'All we are saying is give peace a chance'?" But the problem is that their aim is not for peace and quiet and a good education and future for their population but to keep their population ignorant , needy and resolute to anihilate us and cause us pain. havoc and despair. We are not talking about neighbours like Canada here, or New Zealand. We are talking about a fundamentalist Muslim terrorist entity.
Our aim is to stop the attacks on our civilians. In the west, people seem to preoccupy themselves with the numbers killed on each side. So I am stating the obvious, and please do the same, state the obvious, when speaking with people who don't understand: Israel is a sovereign state under attack by terrorists.
The enlightened western world should be unshiftingly on Israel's side and in awe at the wondrous brilliant way Israel is surgically attacking the root of evil there. Please make it clear to people that if not for the amazing Iron Dome missile interceptor and the safe rooms and safety zones, there would be hundreds of Israelis killed and thousands maimed from the hundreds of rockets over the past few days. That Hamas is committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Israel's retaliation is surgical, brilliantly avoiding civilian injuries, taking out the terrorist chief of staff and sending him to his 72 virgins.
Anyone who thinks the IDF is trying to kill civilians needs to wake up and smell the humus. The IDF must be an incredibly shabby army if in 6 days of air attacks, it only manages to kill under one hundred people, at least half of them terrorists! If our aim were to kill Palestinians, surely it would be more likely for there to be under 100 left, rather than 100 killed! Israel's only 'crime against humanity' if any was the restraint she has shown time and time again so as not to 'escalate violence in the region', her only "crime" was against her own civilians. Which country in the world would (or should) tolerate 12000 rockets on their civilians and 12 years of trauma and fear for children in Sderot, in the kibbutzim and moshavim in the south and more recently, over a million Israelis hostages to the whims of the terrorist entity controlling Gaza? 13% of Israel's population - that would be the equivalent of London being bombed for 12 years.
As of Thursday, the rockets are reaching Tel Aviv and if not for the wonderful Iron Dome, this would mean hundreds of people killed and wounded and tens of homes destroyed.
As I write, 2.30 pm Tuesday 20th November, Jerusalem is again under attack. The mind boggles as to why they would be trying to blow up the city they claim is their holy capital. Perhaps they just don't like built-up areas. That would also explain storing explosives and shooting from densely-populated areas so even our pin-pointed surgical operations can't help but harm civilians no matter how hard we try not to
Please pray for Israel, support Israel and stand up for Israel. Hamas commits war crimes daily. Attacking a neighbouring country, aiming to kill men, women and children, is a crime against humanity.
We are not the Goliath in this story, we are David up against Islamic fundamentalist terror supported by Iran. Support Israel and you support the democratic and humanist values of the free world.
Support our enemies and you undermine those very values and play into the hands of those who despise freedom and love.'