The last time I traveled to Israel – January 2007 – our Or Ami Adult Trip to Israel bypassed the southern city of Sderot because of the daily barrage of rockets raining down on it. Some days they saw four to five; other days 40 to 50. We deemed it just wasn’t safe to bring the busload of travelers to that city.
The decision broke my heart. Imagine traveling through the Southern California, and being told by your tour guide that you could not travel to San Diego or Laguna because the city was being bombarded with missiles from Mexico. We Americans would not stand for such a situation for too long.
But Israel did. In that conflict – before Hamas agreed to a ceasefire – and recently, Israel and its Israel Defense Forces (IDF) showed incredible restraint, but it was reaching the end of its patience. On Christmas Day, the Washington Post reported:
Palestinian fighters fired about 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border in two days.
Israel’s foreign minister brushed off a call for restraint from Egypt’s president, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a direct appeal to Gaza’s people to pressure their leaders to stop the barrages. But the attacks showed no signs of ending. By nightfall, three rockets and 15 mortar shells had exploded in Israel.
Thursday’s rocket fire was far less intense than the barrage of 80 rockets the previous day, and there were no reports of injuries. But Israeli leaders said the continued fire — the most intense since Egypt brokered a cease-fire in June — was unacceptable.
One of the mortar shells landed at Israel’s passenger crossing with Gaza just as a group of Palestinian Christians were going through on their way to the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, the military said. Another rocket exploded after nightfall in an industrial park south of the coastal city of Ashkelon, police said.
And yesterday, December 26th, according to Ha’aretz:
Palestinian militants fired 22 mortar shells from the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday and early morning Friday, as the Israel Defense Forces continued its preparations for military action in Gaza.
The mortars struck the Western Negev, damaging one building. No one was hurt in any of the incidents.
Remember, Israel withdrew from Gaza with a hope and a prayer: a hope that the Palestinians would use this land and its promise to create a place for its own people to live and thrive. And a prayer: that Palestinians would show themselves as potential partners for an even greater agreement with Israel. Neither happened.