Sederot, Israel has become well known as the town which is the greatest recipient of Hamas’ missiles. Just driving through the town, we see new construction everywhere. It isn’t because of a thriving economy. Not at all. It is because the city needed to build bomb shelters everywhere for every person.

The bus stops have shelters. The homes and apartment buildings added rooms. Even the shuk (outdoor market) has its own shelters. A school added a roof over the roof to protect the children from falling missiles. Each family’s shelter is 9 sq meters, 15 centimeters thick with cement.

Who does such a thing…firing missiles, giving CIVILIANS 15 seconds to find safety.

Between April 2001 until 2009 when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead and effectively ended the constant onslaught of missiles. [Israel’s disengagement from Gaza was in 2005, Hamas achieves power after President Bush pushed for democratic elections in 2007.]

Some say that since 8000 Kassam rockets, Sederot’s civilians were lucky that only 11 died. However, 6000 residents were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So here is the deal…

Who else would wait EIGHT years to engage an enemy after having so many missiles land in their sovereign territory…and still be criticized for launching an unethical attack?

I see this as an example of Israel’s restraint, commitment to waging war when absolutely necessary, and finally fighting to protect its citizens. Even President Obama, when visiting here before his election, talked here about how he would defend his children if they were attacked.

But make no mistake…the Mayor of Sederot told us that he does not hate the Palestinians in Gaza. He grew up with them. The Palestinians in Gaza, he said, want peace.

We can make our cases from our comforts in America about what Israel should do. But he said that we must fight Hamas, but need to resist demonizing all the Palestinians. We were surprised (and impressed) with his candid, open, sober perspectives. Frankly, its a very Jewish response…to resist such anger and hatred.

By the way, since Israel finished Operation Cast Lead, there has been quiet in Sederot. Quiet here means only 800 missiles have fallen on the town. There has been no missiles for more than a month (since Hamas signed an alliance with Fatah).

We need to learn. We need to defend Israel in our own communities. We need to tell our students to defend on campus. We can be the shlichim (ambassadors) to others about the realities Israel faces, not the myths we hear in the press.

[This was written while in the protected playground funded by JNF Southern Zone and donors from around the US.]

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