Let me start with a clarification: The blood of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area's residents is not redder then the blood of Israel's
southern residents. An Israeli living in Ramat Gan is not worth more than an Israeli from Kibbutz Zikim or Ashkelon.
But on the strategic level, there is a big difference between massive rocket fire on Ashkelon or Sderot and massive rocket fire targeting Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is Israel's financial center. A barrage of missiles will paralyze the banks, take down the stock exchange and badly damage the economy. The stock market will respond immediately in a destructive manner – and Israel will find it difficult to recover from such a blow.
Jerusalem is the capital. The Knesset, the Supreme Court and government ministries are all located in the city. Targeting the capital is strategic as well.
Significant rocket fire on Ben-Gurion Airport will shut down Israel's main entrance and exit gate. Airlines will stop flying here. There will be no departures and no arrivals. This is a strategic blow, and Israel cannot afford such a situation.
Tel Aviv is home to institutions which are crucial for the State's existence: The IDF's General Staff is in the city center. Hitting it will not paralyze the army, but will damage it preparedness. The headquarters of major companies are located in the city. If their workers stay away from the office – perhaps in order to remain home with their children if schools are shut down – the economy will be paralyzed.
To a lesser extent, Ashdod – with its large industrial area, port and power station – is a strategic target as well. If a missile attack paralyzes the port, it will be a serious blow. Israel won't be able to fight for long with a paralyzed economy.
Hitting Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is a symbolic attack on the heart of Israel. As far as Hamas
is concerned, it is a significant achievement which could be interpreted as victory. There is a big cognitive difference between an attack on New York and an attack on New Mexico, between bombing the capital of Moscow and bombing North Ossetia (a remote region in the Russian Federation).
The attacks on London during World War II and on New York on September 11, 2011 are etched in global memory, have been recorded in the books of history and significantly affected leaders' decision making, up to a declaration of war. We must always remember that.