A friend, call him Reuben, rang us up from Ashdod a few days ago. Ordinarily, receiving a phone call from 30 miles away would seem unexceptional, but Ashdod was under attack at the time. Hundreds of Hamas missiles had fallen in and around his hometown when Reuben called, at about the middle of the latest episode of Israel’s unending war with…almost everyone.
Most but not all hostile missiles aimed at Ashdod (and elsewhere in Israel) had been blown out of the sky by Israel’s Iron Dome missiles. Two Ashkelon women (12 miles from Ashdod) had been killed by incoming at the time of Reuben’s call, two others were seriously injured. The homes of those victims had received direct hits, as had at least eight others after Hamas fired uncounted missiles at the small city as part of what the terrorists proudly described as their “largest barrage ever.”
It was reported at the time of the now active ceasefire—italics used here because, in the Middle East, there is really no such thing—Hamas had fired well over four thousand missiles at Israel, all of them more modern than those they got off during their last fundraiser. (Formerly Hamas used short-range Qassam rockets with a range of about 6 miles but, in their latest attacks, they employed medium-range rockets with a range of 25 miles, Iranian M-75 rockets and J-80 rockets with a range of between 50-60 miles. Most Hamas officials declined to credit their daddy, Iran, for providing them with the necessary funds, technical support and weaponry to perfect their heroism, perhaps because between 10 and 20 percent of whatever they start off toward Israel somehow lands in Gaza. Their misfires severely damaged both their own electrical and water supplies, inflicting great hardship on their supply of human shields, but no one is perfect.)
Per the Jerusalem Post, head of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh said Friday hours after the ceasefire, “Hamas will continue to ‘defend’ Jerusalem… Haniyeh suggested that Hamas’s current objective is to continue fueling the ongoing violence between Palestinians and security forces in the West Bank and in Jerusalem.”
Haniyeh also tweeted, “the resistance brought to an end the illusions of the deal of the century, normalization, and resettlement plans.” How proud he must be.
Ashdod and its neighboring city Ashkelon are two of the five ancient Philistine towns mentioned many times in the Book of Judges. Some scholars believe that the Philistines in Judges were members of the infamous “Sea Peoples,” a hypothesized confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the East Mediterranean prior to, and perhaps causing, what is known as the Late Bronze Age Collapse.
Our friend Reuben is a building subcontractor from Ashdod who, when not huddled in a bomb shelter with his family, works in Jerusalem. He had been scheduled to take a few measurements at our home here to provide an estimate for a small project.
“I can’t make it today,” he told us, almost apologetically. “I need to stay home with my family.”
Understood. Ashdod, Israel’s sixth-largest city, lies less than 20 miles north of Gaza and its terrorist government, Hamas. If you consult the international media or visit a typical American college campus, you will learn from most that Hamas are “freedom fighters.” Regardless of how one may characterize them, they are easily recognized by their full-faced masks, tunneling expertise, Jew hatred, keenness for indiscriminate bombing and frequent use of human shields.
As Israel responded to the attacks with her military, The New York Times, for example, described the IDF’s efforts to blunt Hamas’ missile assault as “a major escalation of violence.” The wholly disingenuous code phrase used by much of the international media to fault Israel’s employment of the IDF for self-defense, is proportionate response. Israel must respond against its attackers proportionately, they say. One pundit tweeted, once Israel struck back, that not nearly enough Jews had died to justify its response.
Clearly, Israel’s critics misuse the term. “Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.” [The Doctrine of Proportionality, Shoshana Bryen, 2014, emphasis added]
But the unending and frankly, vacuous calls for proportionality from Israel’s critics are no more than hollow complaints. Does anyone believe Israel’s critics would be pleased if Israel, instead of employing its legitimate armed forces, responded “proportionately,” as they define it, by lobbing countless missiles into innocent Gaza neighborhoods? Or if Israel built terror tunnels, like Gaza, to threaten civilian Gazan homes, as Hamas has done for years in southern Israel?
At the time of this writing, as mentioned, a ceasefire is in effect between the terrorists and Israel. Though Hamas’ attacks during the eleven active days of engagement, thus far, have resulted in significant death, injury, trauma, property loss and human suffering in Israel, Gazan citizens, who knowingly elected their terrorist government and now cannot remove it, have suffered mightily.
In Israel, we are thankful for the Iron Dome. The pain incurred here would have been much worse if not for its effectiveness, given Iran’s expanding support for our violent neighbors and the West’s continuing funneling of “humanitarian” aid to the terrorist government (funds that, instead of improving the Gazan quality of life, are used to buy more missiles and concrete with which to build tunnels).
The Iron Dome achievement is no small feat. Just forty years ago shooting down missiles with other missiles was flatly considered impossible; a technical problem that couldn’t be solved. Now, Israeli-built Iron Dome missiles are reported to shoot down about 90% of what they aim at. (You can find estimates of Iron Dome success rates as low as 30% on the Internet but, when over 4,000 rockets are launched rapidly at major population areas and yet so little (relative) damage is done, the higher number seems much more believable.)
During the 2014 chapter of the Gaza War, a friend came to dinner at our place in Jerusalem. She had taken the bus across town and, when she alighted midway to transfer, she had looked up in time to witness what she excitedly reported to us as “a magnificent explosion.” She had looked on, firsthand, as an Iron Dome missile had popped a Gaza rocket out of the sky over Jerusalem.
“The missiles exploded in midair like fireworks and no one was hurt,” she told us. “It was a miracle.”
Yes, we agree.