Post 57: A Call to Arms

November 11th, 2012.

In the last 24 hours, 107 rockets have fallen on southern Israel. One-hundred and seven rockets fired with intent to kill, injure, and maim. One-hundred and seven rockets aimed at the civilian populations of a sovereign nation. And being that we are not currently engaged in a full-scale operation to deal with those responsible for this violence, I will ask the obvious question; “What other country would tolerate this?”

What other sovereign nation in the world would allow such a blatant violation of its borders and its security without a full-scale response? Targeted reprisals are a start, but they fall short of the response such attacks require. Part of the reason for Israel’s measured actions is that Israel is held to a standard that no other country in the world is called upon to uphold, and Israel values the world’s opinion.

The world calls on Israel time and again to “exercise restraint” in the face of baseless attacks on its population, and to this I ask but one question: “Under what precedent?” Much smaller incursions have resulted in much larger actions by other sovereign nations. Between 1936 and 1939 the British dealt with the Arab Revolt by burning entire villages and killing 3,000 Palestinians. In the 1970’s, King Hussein responded to Palestinian riots in Jordan by massacring 2,500 Palestinians in ten days. In 1989 in Panama, four unarmed American marines took a wrong turn and ended up at a military checkpoint. They tried to flee and one was killed and one injured. Bush described this as, “an enormous outrage” and invaded Panama with 20,000 soldiers. 60 Minutes reported that up to 4,000 people were killed.

Since the beginning of 2009, approximately 2,262 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel, primarily at civilian centers. In the three years since the last Gaza operation, according to the IDF’s official blog, 11 people have been killed and 127 injured in rocket attacks from Gaza. In the last few weeks, the attacks from Gaza have intensified markedly. On October 23, an IDF captain was severely wounded on a routine patrol of the border. Last week an IDF soldier was moderately wounded and two others lightly wounded when they were attacked while on a routine patrol. Two days later, terrorists in Gaza opened fire at a routine IDF patrol.

Yesterday, the latest barrage of violence began at around 4 PM when a jeep from my base carrying four soldiers, two of whom I know, was hit head on by a rocket. One of those soldiers is in critical condition and may or may not recover. Today, three civilians on their way to work were injured in the Southern city of Sderot. Since yesterday, those of us tasked with the first response on the Gaza border have been confined to armored vehicles. We have slept minutes, not hours, and in those armored vehicles we have eaten, attempted to sleep, laughed, complained, sang, joked and at times, prayed.

One of our primary responsibilities as first responders is to protect the communities and kibbutzim near the border against terrorist infiltration, and rocket fire is often the precursor to a terrorist attack. As a result, when the missiles fall, first responders rush to their vehicles while civilians rush to bomb shelters. And so we watched all of last night and today, with a clear view, from an insufficiently protected vehicle as dozens of rockets flew towards Israel from Gaza.

When you watch a rocket launched in your general direction, it always appears, at least at first, to be headed directly at you. If you’re smart, you learn to stop watching. When the tzeva adom (missile warning siren) went off, we sang, yelled, prayed, insulted each other’s girlfriends; anything to prevent us from thinking too much. Inevitably, the rocket would strike and the ground would shake to varying degrees depending on how far away it was, rattling not only our vehicle but our collective sanity.

And so I write now, not as a citizen but as a soldier: I am ready. Having never been to war, I cannot possibly know what that entails. I know only that this is unacceptable. Even a daily drizzle of rockets from Gaza, which at present is a downpour, is unacceptable. Our families deserve better. Our country deserves better. To be clear, nobody wants a war, particularly not a combat soldier in a unit serving on the Gaza border. I understand the dangers, and I do not take them lightly. But at the end of the day, we chose to be combat soldiers. And although we did not ask for this escalation, we nevertheless stand ready and willing to defend our homes and our families.

We asked for peace, and our enemies responded with rockets. We asked to send our children to school without worrying that they will not return; to drive to work without fearing rockets will begin to fall during rush-hour traffic; to live our lives without the fear of rockets and of terror, and we have been answered with a resounding “No!”

Since pulling out of Gaza in 2009, our desire for peace has been met with thousands of missiles; missiles that are tantamount to a declaration of war. We did not ask for this. And we did not want this. But at a certain point, the cost of inaction becomes too high. As John Stuart Mill once wrote:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

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6 Responses to “Post 57: A Call to Arms”

  1. khananel Says:

    Its a pity your purity makes you so tunnel visioned. Those poor Arabs did not kill your people in the Holocaust. Europeans did. Yet you occupy their country when they did you no harm, and now you wonder why they hurl rockets at you. Do you know how many Palestinians have died since 1948? Do you care? Of course you don’t. Only being a Jew matters even if the rest of the world goes down in flames.

    One day Israel will run out of water. No more in the Kineret. One day there will be twice as many Palestinians as Jews. Then you won’t be able to control them except through genocide or ethnic cleansing. then there will be a 3rd Exile from Palestine after the 1st to Babylon and the 2nd under the Romans.

    You can’t fight the Arabs with guns and tanks. You are too afraid of dying. They are not. No more water, no more Jewish majority in about 2 generations.

    Go back to America dear illusioned one, or die a very unmilitary death in a dying Israel.

    • coreyscott Says:

      Dear Khananel,
      It’s a pity that your beliefs make you so ignorant. I wonder which “occupation” you refer to when you reference “them” hurling rockets at us. I assume you are referring to the Gaza Strip. Perhaps, Khananel, if you were up to speed on your history, you would know that Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza strip on August 15th of 2005 in an effort to promote peace. But you do not want peace, nor do those like you. You want a Middle East without Israel. In response to Israel’s withdrawal of 9,000 of it’s citizens from it’s sovereign territory, the good people of Gaza (“them”) to whom we tried to make a concession for peace, headed by their popularly elected Hamas government, fired, by very conservative estimates, over 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilian centers in an attempt to kill innocent men, women, and children. And yet you have the nerve to tell me that I (or metaphorically, we) don’t care about Palestinian casualties? After in 2009, the British (not Jewish and not affiliated with Israel) Colonel Richard Kemp stated in relation to the 2009 Gaza operation that, “The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” After in 2012, in 1500 missile strikes, only (yet still regrettably) 53 civilians were killed. Which in case your math is as shaky as your history, comes to one civilian per 30 highly explosive missiles launched from an F-16 traveling faster than the speed of sound into one of the most densely populated civilian areas in the world. A bit suspicious if we really have no regard for how many people die.

      As to how many Palestinians have died since 1948, that’s an easy one. Zero. What is a “Palestinian?” An “American” lives in America. An “Egyptian” lives in Egypt. A “Spaniard” lives in Spain. So let’s talk about the myth of Palestinian nationalism since you’ve brought it up. Allow me to quote Palestinian Liberation Organization (no, the irony is not lost on me) splinter leader Zuhair Muhsin in a Dutch interview before he was assassinated: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.” To quote the number of Arab leaders who have made similar statements would take more time then I have, as I spend most of my time protecting innocent civilians from your people. Suffice to say there was never an Arab nation of Palestine, and thus there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, only Arabs turned away in their time of need by their brethren who number 220 million across 14 sovereign nations in the Middle-East alone. But if you want to talk about refugees, what about the 800,000-1,000,000 Jewish refugees kicked out of Arab nations since 1948? (Shindler, Colin. A history of modern Israel. Cambridge University Press 2008.) What about their right of return?

      Ultimately, Israel will face water issues, as she has in the past, but she will overcome them, as she has in the past. The number of Palestinians will remain where it is today…at zero. And there will be no third exodus, nor will I, nor those like me, run back to the countries from which we came. We came here to defend our homeland, and to protect the right of our people to live free and in peace in the only sliver of modernity that a backward, antiquated Middle-East, dominated by Arab dictators, human-rights abusers, and Islamic fanatics have left to the civilized world. And we will continue to do so in a thriving, healthy Israel.

      So hear my words and hear them well: if you decide to threaten the safety of the healthy, thriving Israel that I call home, as long as I wear the uniform of Tsahal it will be my honor and pleasure to escort you to your 72 virgins, the cold earth, or whatever you believe to be waiting for you when you die. And to answer your final point, you are right. We are afraid of dying. We don’t send our children wired with explosives to enemy check-points. We don’t send pregnant mothers to blow themselves up on buses. We mourn our fallen soldiers. We are civilized. And it is precisely because we are civilized and value human life that we will succeed: for we have something to fight for that is very much alive. We fight for our families and for our loved ones; for the right of our children to ride the bus without fear of it blowing up, for the right to live in our own country in peace. Our enemies invoke the name of their prophet, who lived, by all accounts, a life of violence, and call upon his example as justification for their violence. In so doing, they desecrate the name of Islam and drag themselves and their people further into the dark ages, as we continue to push forward towards the light, towards a place where people respect each other and each others beliefs, and strive to live together in relative peace. And if you and those who think like you stand in the way of that progress, as thousands of years of history have proven, you will become extinct.

  2. Benjamin Ross Says:

    Way to go Corey!

  3. sylvia farahan Says:

    I loved your response. Daniel is so proud of you and smiling that special grin. Daniel’s proud mom, Sylvia Farahan

  4. Jody Bell Says:

    Wow.
    Wow. Good for you.
    I am the mother of a 20 year old “boy” who, through Garin Tazbar, will be enlisting this late Fall. I am afraid, I miss him terribly, but most of all I am proud as hell. Your posts are both incredibly informative, well-written, scary and heartwarming. I appreciate you so very much for them, and for what you do there on the ground (or in the air!). Please, continue to protect my son – until he’s able to protect you and yours.
    With Warmest Regards,
    Jody

  5. Jody Bell Says:

    My God, I just noticed that it’s September 11th….
    I think I’m going to forward this 57th Post on to many, many people.

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