Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The War in Gaza

Since the war began in Gaza on Saturday morning here in Israel there have been constant news updates about the action taking place over there.  As one guy I know put it, it's not that the war's started, but that Israel finally has decided to join it.  That's about the way I feel about the situation.

It was reported yesterday that Beer Sheva has been hit by a rocket, and today another one.  That places the major towns/cities of Beer Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon, besides of course the cities that have been under constant threat for the past three years.  The kibbutz I lived on seven years ago, Sa'ad was first hit by a Kassam while I lived there - twice. Two Kassams (they're the shorter range missles) was a big deal then, now not so much.

This map will help:

Let me take this opportunity to put this into perspective.  Beer Sheva has a population of 186,000; Ashdod 207,000; Ashkelon 109,000; plus another 25,000 in small communities surrounding the Strip; plus 25,000 in Netivot; plus 19,000 in Sderot itself. Lehavim, where my cousins Burt and Batya - who celebrated their son's Bar Mitzvah on Monday - live, is also within range has a population of 6,000 among other towns nearby.

If we do all the addition, we get at least 577,000 people who are now living under the constant threat of missle attack.  If they're lucky they'll have 45 seconds notice of an incoming missle, if not as lucky (depending on the distance from Gaza) they'll only have 15 seconds to find shelter.  

The population of Israel is about 7.28 million people.  That 577,000 is 8% of the population.  Let's put that in terms that mean something - the current popluation of the US is 306 million - 8% of which is 24,480,000.  If 24.5 million people in the US were living under those conditions, what do we expect the US would do?  I hope it wouldn't have taken them three years to get their act together like it took our government to.

One of my students yesterday was complaining about Israel's failure to effectively combat the media response to the Arab attack. He said, "When someone attacks Israel for disproportionate response, the answer the Israeli government should be giving is: of course, it's disproportionate! A proportionate response would be to send 10,000 missles into a crowded city without regard to where they hit." 

Update: I added the map, and forgot to add, Kiyrat Gat 47,8000, Yavne 32,000 and Gedera 16,700.  That brings it up to 673,000 at least living within range of rockets; making it 9.2% of the Israeli population and 28,152,000 Americans living under rocket fire.