As I wrote this at least 700 rockets had been fired from Gaza at civilians living in southern Israel and four Israeli civilians had been killed by the rocket-fire. Several were seriously injured, dozens more less seriously injured and the residents have been seriously rattled.
So have the rest of we Israelis. I don’t live in southern Israel. There has been one incoming rocket fire siren that I can remember in the West Bank community of Karnei Shomron in the nearly 19 years I have lived here, which was during the 2014 Gaza war.
But that doesn’t mean my emotions don’t go crazy every time there is an attack on innocent Israelis. They do. Since I learned after Shabbat rockets had been falling with great frequency, I have gone through several different emotions. Anger. Frustration. Worry. Fear. Helplessness. Sadness. And anger, again.
Terror groups in Gaza, namely Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said they decided to attack Israel because we were being slow about easing conditions on the strip following the last flare up. In fact, many conditions that had been loosened had to be tightened again after a rocket fired on southern Israel last week landed in the Mediterranean Sea (bad aim), and the sending, yet again of balloons rigged with explosives from Gaza to Israel, which sparked fires in open fields whose wildlife still hasn’t recovered from the incendiary balloons of a few months ago.
The terror groups did not pick that week to attack randomly. The delegations and guests participating in the Eurovision Song Contest were just arriving when the rockets started falling. The terror groups have been threatening for weeks to disrupt the international event. We also do not yet have a coalition government in place, making it more difficult for our defense minister, who currently is also our prime minister, to order ground troops in to Gaza.
So, 700 rockets. And, as I wrote this, those same terror organizations that thought it would be such a good idea to fire on we Israelis and sent us scurrying for bomb shelters were frantically calling for a cease-fire. Because they either forgot or just decided to ignore the fact we fight back.
And we did. With air strikes on about
300 Hamas and Islamic Jihad military targets as of May 5. Not civilians like the Gaza groups target. We destroyed a building housing Hamas offices and a plant that manufactures weapons, like the rockets coming at us from Gaza. We blew up an Islamic Jihad terror tunnel that stretched from southern Gaza all the way into Israel, the Israeli military had had under surveillance for a long time. And then, the reason the Hamas leaders wanted the cease-fire so badly … we started targeting specific terror leaders. We fight back.
This past week, we observed Yom Hashoah, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, but whose full name is Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, or Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. Because we don’t just remember we were victims of the Nazis, we also remember the Jewish resistance and specifically the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on the day before Passover in 1943 and ended with the 27th of Nisan, which is when we observe Yom Hashoah.
This week, we observed Yom Hazikaron, known as Memorial Day, but whose full name is Yom HaZikaron LeHalalei Ma’arakhot Yisrael ul’Nifge’ei Pe’ulot HaEivah, or Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Yom Hazikaron is the national remembrance day for all Israeli military personnel who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the state of Israel and for those who have been killed while on active duty in the Israel Defense Forces. Last Yom Hazikaron, we remembered 23,645 men and women.
From Yom Hazikaron, we go right into Yom Haatzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day. Because our state of Israel, our homeland, is what all of those soldiers and terror victims died for. And because, while God gave us our homeland and our state, it was the Holocaust that softened the hearts of 33 countries to vote for creating the Jewish state, while 13 voted against and 10 abstained.
There is a meme that has been making the rounds online since the Yom Hashoah observance:
Jews have two memorial days: Yom Hazikaron to remind us the cost of having Israel. Yom Hashoah to remind us the cost of not.
We are strong. We fight back.The Gaza terror groups would be wise to remember.
Marcy Oster is a former Clevelander who covers the Middle East for the Cleveland Jewish News from Karnei Shomron, West Bank. To read more of Oster’s columns, visit cjn.org/oster.