Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Response to Brazil

A journalist in Brazil contacted me and said he wanted to ask a few questions. I looked him up on Twitter - he's asking to speak mostly to Gazans...I guess a crumbled building in Gaza (even if it is the site of a former arsenal or Hamas leader's home) is more exciting than a hole in a soccer field or school yard. No matter that moments before, there were children playing there. The pictures show only that there are no children's bodies - this we celebrate. It's worth the loss of all the media moments in the world not to have our children hurt. That's why our children are not let free to play more than a few seconds run from shelter...that's why we have shelters!

This is what is supposed to appear in Portuguese "for the largest newspaper in capital of Brazil":

July 15, 2014 - before the ground invasion

1- What is the situation in city you live in? Are alarms sounding also there?

I live in Maale Adumim, which is about 5 kilometers to the east of Jerusalem. We have had several sirens here but overall, we are luckier than most other areas of the country. We have been ordered to have our bomb shelters ready and when the sirens sound, we have 90 seconds to get into the shelter. This is much better than the areas close to Gaza, where they have only 15 seconds.

2- Cease-fire just lasted few hours. How do you see intensifying of conflict? As mother of soldier are you afraid your son be called?

A ceasefire was called this morning at 9:00 a.m. It was arranged through the intervention of the Egyptians but it was never really a ceasefire. Israel agreed right away to it while Hamas and the Gazans refused to accept it. During the approximately 6 hours that Israel refrained from firing, Gaza fired approximately 60 rockets into major cities throughout Israel. After 6 hours, our Prime Minister announced what everyone in Israel knew, that this was not a ceasefire. He ordered our air force to return to battle. As a mother of two soldiers, I am very worried that they could be called to war. But I am also worried about the 20,000 or more soldiers who have already been called up. These include sons of my friends and neighbors.

3- Some people accuse Israel of using disproportional strenght in Gaza while no one died in Israel due to rockets. How do you see that?

I am saddened that people refuse to look beyond the numbers and more, that they "fall" for the numbers game being played here.

First, ask yourself why no one has died (yet) in Israel. The answer is not because the Palestinians aren't trying to kill us. They have fired over 1,100 rockets in the past 8 days. They sent an unmanned drone filled with explosives into our skies hoping to crash it into a city and kill as many people as possible.

The reason no one has died is because for more than 20 years, Israel has ordered that every new apartment or house has a bomb shelter, a reinforced room that can withstand the direct impact of a rocket. We are being told not to be further away from a shelter than the time allocated to us. In Sderot, this is 15 seconds. In Ashkelon, this is 60 seconds. I have 90 seconds here near Jerusalem.

Also, we have Iron Dome, a sophisticated defense system that was developed here in Israel. The second something is fired from Gaza, the system detects the trajectory and where the rocket is going to hit – within a given range. If it will hit a populated area (and this includes not only areas that are predominantly Jewish but areas that are predominantly Arab as well), the Iron Dome fires an intercept missile and destroys the incoming rocket in mid-air.

These factors explain why our casualties have been limited, though there is a 16 year old boy in critical condition because he was caught outside, too far to run for shelter. Also, we have had dozens hurt when they rushed to bomb shelters and a few elderly people who have died of heart attacks during or right after a missile attack.

The second part of your question concerns Palestinian casualties. First, I don't consider rocket launching crews, the commander of rocket fire for Islamic Jihad, and a few dozen other "fighters" casualties in the sense that they are combatants, not innocent victims. In several cases, our pilots have fired warning shots into buildings – and dropped leaflets in Arabic telling people to leave an area.

We have even sent text messages to all the phones in an area, warning that a certain building, home to a Hamas commander known to be responsible for rocket fire is about to be targeted.

In one case, the pilot saw people leave and when the trickle of people stopped, he shot at the building. It turns out, more "civilians" had gone in to protect the building – among them were women and children. We have this on video- you can see this on YouTube. What kind of mother goes in a building targeted for destruction, with her children? Are these people really innocent when they knowingly put themselves in harm's way?

And Israel has shown the world repeatedly – again, this is all readily available on video, showing that Hamas is storing its rockets in mosques, schools, homes, neighborhoods – even next to UN buildings!

Whole arsenals – rockets, explosives, etc. Israel warns people to move away – there is a reason. Either Hamas has to move its weapons – rockets they are firing at us – again, over 1,100 of these rockets have been fired at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheva, even Eilat – almost every major city, 5 million people, have come under attack.

Are we to do nothing because Palestinians are hiding behind their women and children like cowards? And finally, there are the true innocents – and for these Israel has great regret. Ultimately though, responsibility has to be at least shared with Hamas.

Why are their leaders hiding in bunkers while their women and children are not protected? Until the Palestinians care more for their own people, there will be casualties. We have called off many attacks when civilians are present but as the responsibility for the people of Israel rests with the government of Israel, the responsibility for the people of Gaza rests with the Hamas, the elected representative of the Gazans.

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