Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What School Should Be...

My youngest children went to school today. Thousands of children in Israel did not. Some of their schools are protected, reinforced against missiles. That's the result of more than 8 years of ongoing missile attacks. Though my children's school isn't protected from a potential missile attack, it does have a bomb shelter; it does have a high fence circling it to prevent terrorists from entering (even more, perhaps than preventing children from straying off), and it has a guard that watches as children enter and exit.

In the last few days, the police must have decided that all this was not enough, and so they have stationed police near each of the schools, armed and watching. Our children are our lives, our most precious treasures. Whatever it takes to keep them safe, will be done. That is the message Israel has sent to its citizens.

Several times over the past few years, our schools in the south have been hit by rockets. Last week, two schools and a kindergarten were hit. Thankfully, no one was hurt because our country deemed it too dangerous to allow our children to continue their studies, lest a missile hit there. Of course, it would have been nice if our government and the world stopped the missiles, but if they haven't accomplished that yet, at least they were honest enough to tell parents to keep their children home. The priority has always been the lives of our children.

A few years ago, a young boy, only 4-years-old, was walking to nursery school with his mother when a rocket crashed and exploded next to them, just as they entered the school yard. Little Afik was killed, his mother seriously wounded. Afik's parents had tried for years to have children and only after many many years of treatments, were they finally blessed with a beautiful baby boy...and then, on one horrible day, they lost their only child, Afik.

Rather than risk that and other tragedies, Israel has suspended school everywhere within 40 kilometers of Gaza. They did this because a school should be a place where children learn and play. Where there is light and knowledge. Most of all, it should be a place where children are safe, where they can grow and expand their knowledge in a protected environment. Today, in Gaza, a school was hit by an Israeli missile. The Palestinians claim dozens have died. It's a horrible thing, a terrible tragedy, every parent's nightmare.


Except that Israel's initial inquiry into the incident, showed that the missile didn't hit the "school" by mistake. The target was true; the aim was accurate. In August, last year, Israel filed a formal complaint with the United Nations, complaining about the school being used to fire against Israel. Israel has already identified Hamas gunmen who were killed at the scene of the attack - even publicized their names.

The proof that the building was a legitimate target was found, once again, in the secondary explosions that occurred. The missile hit the building, causing explosives inside the building to detonate. You can watch these and other videos on the web. You'll see the initial explosion, and then, mere seconds later, multiple explosions and objects shooting high into the air.

If you hit a building that has no explosives, the building collapses and the only thing that rises into the air is dust and rubble. Nothing explodes - again, see all the videos of houses hit in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva. As horrible as it sounds, as tragic as the results are, the missile was accurate. It hit its target and did what it was supposed to do. Secondary explosions prove that the building was used to store rockets.

What it comes down to is a building from which mortars were shot, in which explosives were stored, and in which, Palestinians chose to teach their young. There is something incredibly sick about that.

There are rules in warfare and in life.

One rule: A civilized people should not target innocent civilians. This is what Hamas repeatedly has done for the last 8 years. This is NOT what Israel did today.

Second rule: An innocent civilian should not protect a terrorist location. If you are in a training camp - leave. If you are near a rocket launching site - run, and if you are sending your children to a school where rockets are stored and missiles and mortars are launched, be smart and stop sending your child because the government against whom those rockets and mortars are being shot, has the right to defend itself. School is important, but as Israel has shown in the last few days by canceling lessons, nothing is as important as life.

And there is an even more sinister issue here lurking under the surface of this story, one that I hope will come to light in the next few days. The United Nations and its involvement in Gaza is one that is as suspect as its involvement in Lebanon was years ago. Too often, they are "at the scene" and too often, they allow their "sanctuaries" to by used by terrorists who attack Israel. Their ambulances have been used by gunmen, and their school to be used as a launching ground for mortars.

Today Israel hit a target - a legitimate target used to launch mortars against our people. If, in addition to shooting mortars, that building was also used for classes, that doesn't make it a school. A school should be a place of knowledge and growth. A school should be a place of safety and it seems rather obvious to me that a missile launching pad isn't a safe environment, and therefore, no matter what the United Nations calls that building in Gaza, it was not a school.

A school cannot be a place for mortars...and a place with mortars cannot be a school. Golda Meir once said that there would be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us. Decades after she said that, generations have come and gone, and still that day has not arrived.


Tim and Vicky said...

Golda Meir was a very passionate, loving and wise woman.

Anonymous said...

The videos the IDF has put online showing the secondary explosions (and the accuracy of their weapons!) are amazing to watch. No matter how loud pro-Hamas people scream that it is Israel who is the big bad - it is the actual evidence and not the shouting and demonstrating people that will prove in the end who are the real terrorists.
We choose life - for ourselves and our children. Hamas chooses death - for themselves and their children. But they should not have the right to choose for all the innocents as well. Stop Hamas and save all the innocents!
Israel- you're doing the right thing in stopping a terrorist organisation. Thank you for helping make the world a safer place!

Bonnie said...

I am reading your posts and each one touches me deeper than the one before. I'm not sure how it's possible but it is. I am not Jewish, I am a follower of Christ so while it is not the same for me, there is something imperative to me in your heritage and I ache reading your words, knowing this is not what God intends for His creation and praying, praying, praying it would end. My son is probably very close to Elie's age and I look at him and I read your words and I can't imagine having your strength. I write from half a world away and each time I read what you write, I sit stunned and speechless (this paragraph gives that last comment pause but...it's true) and just pray the Holy Spirit speaks for me to God because I simply don't have words. This post and the one you wrote in response to Mahmood gives me a perspective on this I didn't have before. To be honest, I didn't want to take the time - the horrors are too hard to think about so I just don't. Shame on me. Thank you for opening eyes, opening hearts and for being so transparent. May God give you strength to keep writing even when you don't feel you have any of your own. We need to read you. Please forgive my length of comment and rambling. I still can't wrap my head cohesively around what you write but I am getting closer. Perhaps future comments will be less disjointed.

margalit said...

This was so beautifully written and so heartfelt that I posted your URL on twitter. I hope you don't mind, but really, this needs to be read by as many people as possible. I'm praying for your son.

RivkA with a capital A said...

"A school cannot be a place for mortars...and a place with mortars cannot be a school."

That basically says it all

Perpetua said...

Do you have a link to the video that shows the secondary explosions at the school?

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