Photo Credit: IDF
Tamir interceptor missile fired by Iron Dome aerial defense system soars into the skies above Ashkelon to neutralize a threat.

Update from Israel: Last night saw several huge barrages against Israel. Over 200 missiles were fired against Beersheva in the early morning hours; Tel Aviv was attacked twice. A direct hit on a home in Yehud resulted in utter destruction, the family safe and uninjured because they were in the bomb shelters. During one of the attacks, a father and 7-year-old child were killed, caught outside during an attack.

Early in the morning an attack was attempted on the airport. While it missed, two other towns nearby were hit. A power plant near Ashkelon was hit, hours and hours later, the oil is still burning. The death count rises in Israel. We are at five dead, at least 9 people in critical condition after over 1,000 missiles were fired at Israel. Countries that do not know Israel cannot understand our pain. To us, five worlds have been lost, stolen, destroyed.

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Red Alert in Netiv Haasara

Throughout Israel, there is anger, there is determination, there is unity, and there is hope. Hope that this time, finally, the government of Israel will act as any normal country would. We care not who others feel, what others say. The condemnation of the world came after six million Jews were murdered in Europe, but while they died, there was silence. Nothing was done to save them.

That will not happen now. They can condemn and they can be silent. We don’t need their words when Jews are being murdered in their homes, when synagogues are being attacked.

Yesterday and overnight, a troubling pattern is arising. Arabs with Israeli citizenship are rioting in city after city proving what we all knew. Hamas has made it clear, as have the Israeli Arabs who are setting fire to cars and building, attacking Jews where they can find them. Islamic Jihad has called on Palestinians to begin stabbing and shooting civilians and soldiers. This morning, not far from here, an Arab with a knife attacked a soldier and attempted to grab his rifle. The soldier is fine, the Arab not so much.

I can tell you of massive damages to property throughout central Israel and primarily in southern Israel. No, I don’t want to speak of the damage in Gaza. Why should I? We know, even if the world won’t admit it, that we are following the moral path. We “tap” on building roofs and send messages to evacuate and then we destroy an empty building. Do they warn before they fire and hit a school, a hospital?

Our targets are the rocket launchers, the training grounds, and the leaders who order the missile attacks on our civilians. If Palestinian civilians choose to remain beside these launchers, beside these terrorists, they will die. Their targets are our civilians, their rockets fired without a care where it will land. Their greatest hope is our greatest nightmare. They crave death and destruction.

Red Alert in Erez

And if, yes, perhaps it is when they die, it will be because the Palestinian fighters immorally and illegally chose to fight from within civilian neighborhoods. Perhaps, finally this time will be different. The Israeli army will try to avoid civilian injuries, as it always has but this time, hopefully, this time it will not risk the lives of Israeli citizens.

Red Alert in Yad Mordechai, in Erez

Announcement that two Israelis were critically injured by rocket fire…waiting for more news.

In the streets of Israel, there is the feel of war. As always, despite living on the brink of war, it always comes as a shock that this time we fell; this time it didn’t fizzle away to “relative calm” at the last minute. But this time, as we watch explosions over Tel Aviv, finally, there seems to be general consensus that this time is different.

In the memories and lives of the majority of Israelis, we do not remember seeing pictures such as were seen last night. My oldest son fought in the Cast Lead Operation over a decade ago. He was a young man of 22. Today he is a husband and father. For our family, the timing of the end of the war was so very poignant and relevant. He was released after weeks of not seeing him, the day before his youngest brother was to celebrate his bar mitzvah at the Kotel.

To save time, and because I was desperate to see him, to hug him, I drove down to pick him up. Smelly and tired and hungry, he gladly drank his favorite drink and ate a few of the brownies that I had brought and then asked if we could leave the brownies with the other soldiers.

As we drove away, his first words were, “Ima, they didn’t let us finish.” As my phone beeps warnings of incoming missiles, as the computer screen tells me that residents of Kibbutz Be’eri are being warned to stay in their homes and everyone within 4 kilometers of Gaza should enter bomb shelters, we can only hope that this time, the world and the government of Israel will let the army of Israel finish the job. Eradicate the threat by destroying the leadership and the weaponry of Hamas.

Once we do, we will need to deal with the second major problem that has arisen from this latest war thrust upon us. What will we do with a population that hates us to the depths of their souls and how will we separate those that honor us and want to remain as citizens of Israel? How will we protect our people from the rioting extremists who set fire and destroy from within without damaging the rights and the lives of those who genuinely value the gift of citizenship in this wonderful country?

That is the problem we will face the day after this war ends. For now, may the true Guardian of Israel help the guardians of the walls, the land, the skies and the shores. No matter where you are, please pray for Israel. We did not trigger this war; we did not seek it.

Red Alert in Netiv Haasara

But, please God, this time, let us finish it. Perhaps with Hamas exterminated, the people of Gaza will choose leaders that value life and love and serve them more than they hate us. And, if not, at least the next war will be that much further away so that we can return to raising our children and watching our grandchildren play safely in our homes.

May the God of Israel forever bless Israel with peace.

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Paula R. Stern is the co-founder of Retraining4Israel (www.retraining4israel.com), a new organization working to help olim make aliyah successful. Paula made aliyah over 25 years ago with her husband and their three children. She lives in Maale Adumim and is often referred to as “A Soldier’s Mother”. She is now a happy wife, mother of five (including two sabras), and grandmother, happily sharing her voice and opinions with others. She is also a senior tech writer and lead training instructor at WritePoint Ltd. (www.writepoint.com).