An update from JCC Israel Center

JCCs Stand with Israel

July 10 2014

Operation Protective Edge – background and updates

During the search for the three missing Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrach, GilAd Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, Israel’s Defense Forces arrested many former prisoners who had been released during the prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011. At that time, more than 1000 terrorists were released in exchange for his freedom. As a result, Hamas violated a ceasefire agreement that had held since November 2012 and initiated a massive rockets attack on that began on July 8.

Based on past experience, and in preparations for a potential escalation in fighting, the Israeli army drafted tens of thousands reserves soldiers to stand by in case of a ground operation. Initially the attacks were concentrated in an area extending 25 miles from Gaza. As a result, Israeli security forces canceled all programs within this zone, and requested residents of the area to stay at home or near bomb shelters. Within this area, summer camps and other activities were canceled.

Two days ago, this 25 miles border became irrelevant when Hamas launched rockets towards Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities in between. As a result, the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv announced that they would be operating at minimal staff and remain closed for public service while rockets are being fired at Tel Aviv. The embassy however is the exception: All other activities in Tel Aviv, including camps, offices, restaurants, clubs and other activities are operating as normal. As of tonight more than 350 rockets were shot towards Israeli cities. Tonight three people living very close to the border with Gaza were injured, one of them severely as a result of direct shooting. As of tonight, more than 350 rockets have been shot toward Israeli cities. Tonight three people living very close to the border with Gaza were injured, one of them severely as a result of direct shooting.

The Israel Air Force is targeting, and striking, rocket launchers and the industries that make the missiles.

The true hero of Operation Protective Edge is no doubt the Iron Dome system. Iron Dome is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery. As of now Iron Dome intercepts 90 percent of the rockets fired into Israel and has no doubt saved many lives and prevented widespread damage.

Although sometimes it seems that the court of public opinion is stacked against Israel, there have been many announcements of solidarity.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the rocket attacks on Israel and has called on both sides of the conflict to cease fire. The European Union expressed its unreserved solidarity with the citizens of Israel and stated that rockets used against civilians is never a legitimate response, no matter the grievance.  Canada’s foreign minister condemned the rocket attacks and declared that Israel has every right to defend itself from such belligerent acts of terrorism. Germany condemned without reservation the rocket fire on Israel and the White House spokesman stated that no country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and that the U.S. supports Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.

Following the news from Israel in North America can be frustrating at best and frightening at worst. We understand that Israel can seem like a dangerous place, not safe enough for its own residents.

The reality, however, is very different. While part of the country is under threat, much of the country is enjoying these typical warm Israeli summer days.

While half of the country is at risk, currently living under threat, and thousands more soldiers have been drafted to protect them, most Israelis, including those in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in between carry on with their lives as usual, until the sirens announcing an incoming missile disrupts them.

It may seem surreal to you in the States, but it is, for the moment, Israel’s reality.

Leah Garber
Vice President
JCC Israel Center