After being busy with the submission of two research proposal and trying to stay afloat with the pretty heavy teaching load I have this semester, I decided I should take a short break and post something on my blog. I actually have quite a few things I have been wanting to write about, but it seems that the most relevant thing is the the mini-war which is raging not to far from here. So, I thought I'd stray from my usual and write about the middle east.
Anyway, living in Israel is like perpetually living in the eye of a Hurricane. Everything around is in a big turmoil, but Israel itself manages to keep life surprisingly peaceful. It means that if you learn not to listen to the news every hour, you have a pretty good life.
As things would have it, as I finished writing the lines of the previous paragraph I had to take a pause and run to the shelter after hearing the eerie sound of a raid siren! This made me think of a few things.
First, I don't know why it is so eerie, perhaps it is the idea that you're now a sitting duck or the fact that you actually hear it from several sources simultaneously, giving the sound a strange tone to it (plus, making it impossible to localize).
Second, It is the first time I heard this siren since the first gulf war, when I (and other Israelis) served as Scud missile targets. In any case, I think this is the first time since the early 70's that rockets were sent towards Jerusalem. It seems that Hamas tried to target the Knesset (at least so they say), though they missed it by about 10 km. Of course, I won't say to which direction, since it is not a good habit to do! (In The Yom Kippur war, for example, a stupid news reporter told all the radio listeners, including the Syrians, that a FROG-7 missile landed on Migdal HaEmek, the Syrians then corrected their aim and hit the Ramat-David airbase killing a pilot).
Third, this single incident (well, I hope it remains single) makes you realize what Israelis living next to Gaza have been feeling for the past 10 years, which brings me back to what I was writing about before the siren.
Although for the most part, most of Israel has been enjoying a rather peaceful existence, this is not the case for everyone in Israel. Residents of towns next to the Gaza strip have been living under a barrage of rockets for the past 11 years. During this time, about 5500 rockets where launched towards these towns (over 10000 if you count the mortar shells too). For comparison, London during WWII was on the receiving end of about 10000 V-1 and V-2 rockets.
So, it is not surprising that Gaza is finally on the receiving end. Although I am pessimistic about it, I do hope it will take the taste of war from the Hamas for a few years—that they will think twice before launching even a single rocket towards Israel, just like the 2006 campaign in Lebanon made that border quiet from Katyusha's ever since.
It is however always good to put things in perspective. Over 10 years, around 20 Israelis died from rockets. 3 During the present campaign. The number of Gazans who died over the past week is roughly 20, of whom quite a few were militants (e.g., setting up rockets). For comparison, the number of road casualties in Israel is roughly 390 a year (5.2 per 100,000 per year, compared with 12.3 in the USA! we have very few drunk drivers...). About 850 Egyptians died turing the over throw of their government. 2000 died in Yemen, and perhaps 30000 in Libya. The number of Syrian's killed by Syrian's in the present civil war has been about 40,000. So, even the little war is still part of the peaceful eye of the Hurricane.
Let me end with a link or two. Talking about hurricanes, if you want to know what some clerics think about Hurricane Sandy, check this link on memri.org. And if that didn't make you raise an eyebrow, look at this this link (That site is excellent. All it does is translate arab media into english, letting us westerners really know what Arabs really think).
I could make it a more scientific blog entry by calculating why it takes 1.5 min for a rocket to get from Gaza to Jerusalem, or something about the balistics of the .22 Baretta I shot today (yep I did, makes you wonder doesn't it?), but I'll go to sleep instead.