Last week, Hamas fighters entered a tunnel they had dug many meters underground, emerging next to a small yishuv on the border with Gaza, Netiv ha Asara. They entered the tunnel, dressed as Israeli soldiers, prepared to shoot as many Israelis as they could. A few residents of the yishuv who had complained that they heard the sounds of drilling under their homes were told that they were psychologically damaged. Or that they were imagining things. A doctor gave them anti-depressants. Instead of listening to their story, the experts told them that they were crazy.
That story serves as a metaphor for our relationship to Hamas and the rest of the world. While Hamas is fighting an aggressive war against us, firing missiles, digging attack tunnels, calling for our annihilation, too many naïve or hateful people tell us that we are wrong, we are crazy, that we are to blame. These people don’t dig any deeper than the apparent truth: Israel is killing more people than Hamas, so Israel must be guilty.
Yet imagine the dire outcome if Hamas were to hold the weapons that Israel has. They would not agree to today’s ceasefire. Hamas would not warn our civilians before attacking as Israel does, they would not send us telephone messages, would not hold back if they saw innocents in the range of fire, but would shoot indiscriminately, killing as many of us as they could. They would not, as Israel is doing, be sending truckloads of food and water and gasoline into our land.
If Hamas had the weapons that we do, they would keep firing. The imam at the Qalandia camp’s mosque in Israel attacked the people of Israel in his Friday sermon, shouting in fury, “Kill me, cut me into pieces, drown me in blood, you will never live in my land, you will never live in my sky!” This is the enemy: one that does not want us in his land, or in his sky. This is the enemy, people like the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan, who compares the Israeli people who are being rocketed daily, to Hitler. This is the enemy, one that hides rockets and weapons in houses and schools and hospitals, one that swears to the annihilation of Israel.
Our enemy calls us dogs. And when we defend ourselves, the press and others ignore context and history and tell us that we are disproportionate in our response. Our proportion of protecting ourselves is wrong. In what proportion shall we let Hamas fire rockets into our country? In what proportion shall we allow them to dig murder tunnels under our towns? If Hamas stops firing, so will Israel.
The sounds we hear, the rockets and the warnings, the digging under the ground is the sound of an enemy that would rather destroy Israel than protect its own people. The world has to start listening.
Reprinted with author’s permission