Sometimes, it’s hard to escape the feeling that watching the reports from the “Pillar of Defence” campaign in Gaza is rather like watching reality TV, what with round-the-clock reports from the south, on-the-spot interviews with residents of the towns hit by Hamas missiles, and panels of experts on each of the three “main” channels (ie. not the cable or satellite channels) endlessly analysing each and every scrap of information that comes our way.
Just over an hour ago, we heard the air-raid sirens here in Jerusalem. I wasn’t sure at first just what it was I was hearing. It seems that nobody else was either. After a minute or so, I stepped out into the stairwell – supposedly the safest place in the building, since the bomb shelter is locked, and no-one seems to have the key. Actually, I did so mainly to see what everyone else was doing. In point of fact, no-one was doing anything, with the exception of the Ethiopian family from the apartment opposite mine. They went all the way down to the basement – the little girls were really scared. One of the neighbours on the ground floor opened her front door to ask what was going on. No-one knew. We all turned around and returned to our respective apartments to switch on the television and try to find out what, exactly, was happening. It turns out that Hamas did fire rockets in the direction of Jerusalem but they fell in open fields outside the city and exploded without damage either to life or to property. If they try that again, I hope they manage to hit the Dome of the Rock, third holiest shrine of the Muslim world, and blow it to smithereens! Preferably when it’s full.
I know there will be some hotheads who now say: we can’t let the bastards get away with this, we need to send the troops into Gaza NOW. I disagree. On TV this afternoon, they showed how it is possible to destroy even underground rocket launch sites from the air. Given that we have no intention of re-occupying Gaza, I see no reason to endanger the lives of our ground troops by sending them in to do a job that the IAF can do just as efficiently from the air. I think we should give them such a pounding, they won’t dare to venture from their hidey-holes for years to come.
Further musings: why is the name of this campaign being translated into English as “Pillar of Defence”? The Hebrew name, “Amud Anan” (עמוד ענן) means “Pillar of Cloud” and is a clear reference to the Biblical story of the Exodus, when the Lord went before the Israelites to guide them, in a Pillar of Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire by night. Come to think of it – surely “Pillar of Fire” would be a more appropriate name for this campaign…
Wishing you (and us) a peaceful Shabbat.