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Damage from Grad attack in Beersheba
Photo: Shimrit Shay
London 1940, Israel 2011
Op-ed: Israelis facing similar onslaught to London blitz, but without world’s support
Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba....All major southern Israel cities are now under a heavy rocket offensive from Gaza. There are Jewish dead, babies wounded, schools and synagogues destroyed, entire cities and towns terrorized.

 

There is only one historical precedent of a modern democracy besieged under rocket attacks. During the afternoon of Sept. 7, 1940, 348 Nazi bombers appeared over London’s skies. For the next 57 days, London was bombed day and night. Fires consumed many portions of the city. Residents sought shelter wherever they could find it - many fleeing to the underground that sheltered as many as 177,000 people during the night.

 

However, there is a big difference between the two situations: While the West backed the British resistance against the Nazi monster, Israel is alone in fighting a battle for all of us. And Sderot’s fate has become the fate of the whole of Israel.

 

Israeli intelligence reports indicate that estimated warning time for a rocket attack on the greater Tel Aviv area has declined from two minutes to just 90 seconds. From Gaza, a couple of years ago, the terrorists were able to strike at most of Sderot, which is just three kilometres from the Gaza Strip. Then they reached Ashkelon (20 km), Beersheba (40 km) and Ashdod (31 km), also hitting the outskirts of Rehovot (42) and Rishon Lezion (58 km).

 

Missiles did not hit so close to Israel's main population centre since 1991, when Saddam Hussein launched his missiles from Baghdad. The next target will be Tel Aviv (68 km). In the north, Hezbollah is even more deadly. The Greater Tel Aviv area, where a quarter of the entire Israeli population lives, is the target of the next war. Nobody knows if and when it will begin.

 

Israeli courage

Sderot represents the siege on the Jewish people and the resistance of Israel, but it also reveals the rest of the world’s indifference to the genocidal hatred that is Jihadism. Some 70% of Israeli children in the Negev show symptoms of trauma, while thousands of children carry physical disabilities from Palestinian bombs.

 

There are children who want to constantly stay inside the bunkers, or in the secured rooms of their homes. There are children who don’t get out of bed anymore. There are people who take the taxi to reach medical clinics, in case the air raid siren will sound. Many people had their hearing impaired because they live close to the siren. There are even those people who hear the siren even when it’s silent.

 

Little is said or written about the incredible courage being shown by the civilian population of Israel, but it is reminiscent of events 70 years ago. Londoners, who had endured the blitz stoically, with British aplomb and quiet courage, then had more than 1,200 V-1 bombs rain down on them from the skies, followed later by hundreds of larger V-2 missiles that gave no warning. The people of Israel are equally valiant, going about their daily lives knowing that killers might explode a bomb or rocket in any public place at any time.

 

Yet there is another difference. The British people didn’t have to face a ground invasion or a house-to-house war. For Israel, more alarming than the rocket escalation is an eventual Islamist takeover of the mere six miles that separate Netanya on the Israeli coast from the Palestinian town of Tulkarem. There is an Arab saying about Netanya as the narrowest and most exposed throat of Israel: “When we hang you, we will hang you from Netanya.”

 

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism

 

 

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