A missile from Israel’s Iron Dome is fired to intercept a missile coming from the Gaza Strip, in November 2012. (photo by Nehemiya Gershuni-Aylho/IDF)
Interesting. Sad. Frustrating. Predictable. Some five years after Operation Protective Edge, there are the same tensions and military conflagrations between Gaza and Israel. As my three-part homefront diaries from 2014 is being printed as a retrospective in the Jewish Independent (see other article on this page), Israel continues to defend itself from indiscriminate missile fire from Gaza. With this diary, I hope to capture the same sense of homefront resilience. From the mundane to the philosophical, this is how I experienced it.
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019: Again. A little bit tedious. This business of war. Woke up just after 6 a.m. to a siren. Incoming. Oh well. Time to get up anyway. Just a few hours earlier, Baha Abu al-Ata (try say that while standing on your head) was assassinated in a targeted killing by the Israel Defence Forces. He was a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander in Gaza.
Not much later, a text message from the school district. School canceled. My daughter happy. Twenty minutes later, several of her friends show up for breakfast. Their conversation: missiles, sirens, stress levels, locations hit. Where is the giggling? The talk of boys? Of parties? OK, there was also that. Teenagers in the homefront.
Missiles hitting as far north as Tel Aviv. Several months ago, this was a red line. An exception. Now, the norm.
My wife called her mom, who lives just outside Tel Aviv. We’re bringing her here until the missiles stop.
Wednesday, Nov. 13: Two hundred missiles slammed into Israel. Remarkably, very little damage. Did the PIJ ever hear of GPS? Shhh. Don’t tell them.
The enemy is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Not Hamas. Not sure the difference. Or how important it is. Both radical Islamic parties. Both fire missiles at Israel. Both want to destroy Israel. Both want to kill Israelis.
Thursday, Nov. 14: A very quiet night. And then, around 6 a.m., the missiles started again. Raining on the south. By late afternoon, another 100 missiles fired on us. Yikes.
Told to brace for several days of fighting. Most of the missiles fired today fell around the Gaza periphery. PIJ not ready for a ceasefire. Acting as if they own this game. Maybe they do. Where is our might? Our deterrence? Our “make my day” attitude? Must put an end to this constant threat. To the PIJ. To Hamas. To their ability to fire indiscriminately and nonstop at Israel. It’s not fair. “Fair.” Like that’s a concept in war.
My big question, somewhat rhetorically, but also looking for answers: how did Gaza develop so many darn missiles? Shouldn’t we have stopped this stockpiling before it got out of hand? Same mistake in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles aimed at my home. Double yikes!
Regarding the current threat – 42 missiles fired at us in last 15 minutes. Triple yikes!
And, as I was sleeping in our apartment up north, where I stay occasionally during the week because of work, a missile was shot down over Rehovot. My daughter was woken at 11:30 p.m., alone at home. She excitedly recounted the difficulty she had shutting the fortified window in our protective room. The recently replaced screen is the culprit. By the time she finally got it shut, boom! The missile was shot from the sky by our trusty Iron Dome interceptor.
I need to fix that screen for next time.
Friday, Nov. 15: The fighting has been called Operation Black Belt. A ceasefire agreement reached. Not surprisingly, the ink not yet dry, more missiles fired into Israel.
Just wondering. When ceasefires agreements signed, does the PIJ – not Hamas, I remind you – and Israel sit around a table, sign a document, exchange pens, take a few selfies? OK, silly thought. But, if they did, might be a way to reduce animosity. They could even share a drink at an “after event.” Ha.
How does Operation Black Belt impact Israel’s political woes? Still a country without a functioning government.
And Gaza has a functioning government? A rhetorical question I couldn’t refuse to ask.
More than 400 missiles fired into Israel since Tuesday. Fifty-eight Israeli civilians injured, but none seriously (I think, I hope). Not sure our number of retaliatory attacks but reportedly significant.
Our ability to pinpoint attacks is just amazing. Baha Abu al-Ata (and his wife) were taken out while sleeping in his apartment. No other deaths or damage.
Saturday, Nov. 16: My morning news feed: “Intermittent Rockets Continue to be Launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Now, isn’t that lovely. Actually, it’s difficult to distinguish the morning thunderstorm – finally raining – from the sounds of missiles and anti-missiles clashing overhead. A boom is boom is a boom.
This is a ceasefire? Middle East-style, anyway. The proverbial beat goes on.
Bruce Brown, a Canadian-Israeli, made aliyah 25 years ago. He works in high-tech and is happily married, with two kids. He is the winner of a 2019 American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish writing. This article originally appeared in the CJN.