PHOTO: Children in southern Israel drop to the ground and cover their heads as air raid sirens sound yet again, signaling the arrival of more Gaza rockets.
Amid the coronavirus scare and upcoming national elections in less than a week, it’s easy to forget that the residents of southern Israel continue to live under terrorist rocket fire.
Below are excerpts from an Israeli radio interview with Shani Ben-Abu, a mother in the coastal city of Ashkelon, to demonstrate how intolerable the situation has become.
Earlier this week, Ben-Abu was taking her son, Ilai, to an after-school activity when the air raid sirens sounded.
“He was scared, I let out a yell without realizing,” she told 103 FM Radio. “It just ruins children’s childhood. They grow up at war. We’re second-class citizens.”
Little Ilai added, “It was scary. The missiles were over our heads, and I heard the boom. Mom lay down on top of me.”
That feeling of despair has been echoed by many Israelis living in what’s known as the “Gaza envelope,” and who feel the government is doing far too little to end the constant threat to them and their children.
Terrorists boast of success
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad, which was responsible for the latest rocket barrage targeting the citizens of southern Israel, boasted of the group’s success in making life “hell” for people like Shani and Ilai Ben-Abu.
“We have transformed the [Israeli] towns near Gaza into hell, into unlivable places,” gushed Abu Hamza in a statement issued from the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.
“All resistance actions — in every place and time and under any circumstance or political scenario — are legitimate, enjoy popular support and are a matter of consensus in the resistance,” the terrorist mouthpiece added. “We are proud to give up our blood so that our people and nation can live with honor and dignity.”
This isn’t over
While a tense relative calm has settled on the region in the past couple days, Abu Hamza concluded his remarks by warning that the latest round of fighting wasn’t over.
IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi concurred.
“I have no intention of scaring you… But quite a few of the operations in the last 20 years, even the wars, began in this manner, through an escalation that evolved into something much bigger,” said Kochavi during an event honoring Israeli army reservists.
Kochavi stressed that the IDF would “do everything possible to complete our mission, to protect the citizens of the Gaza envelope in this case. We will do everything to prevent them from feeling insecure and of course protect them in any way possible.”
While the general might indeed be sincere, many residents of the Gaza envelope, especially in rocket-battered towns like Sderot, no longer put much stock in the promises of their leaders.