Op-ed on Israel
7/31/2014, 6:01 p.m.
As rockets continue to rain down on Israeli communities and Israeli troops act to quell the onslaught, I will be boarding a plane bound for the Jewish state to see with my own eyes exactly what is taking place. During my time in Israel, I will be reporting on the ground and conducting a series of in-depth interviews on the latest state of affairs.
At the moment, things are not sounding so great, with the death toll continuing to climb as Hamas rejects calls for a cease-fire and Israel shows no sign of continuing its efforts to stymie the rocket fire and destroy terrorist tunnel networks.
Hamas has fired over 1,500 rockets since July 8 alone. Israeli men, women and children have just 15 seconds to seek shelter when air raid sirens sound and unguided rockets fly toward population centers. It’s a stunning contrast with the way Israel is conducting its campaign in Gaza, placing phone calls to Palestinians urging them to evacuate areas where the Israeli army is planning to strike in order to minimize civilian casualties.
In recent days, Hamas terrorists, disguised in IDF uniforms, have used tunnels to infiltrate the Jewish state. Israelis soldiers have given their lives to protect Israeli civilians living in communities near Gaza, which were the targets of the cynical Hamas.
The Israeli army has found caches of tranquilizers and plastic handcuffs, which apparently were to be used to sedate and kidnap Israeli soldiers and whisk them away throughout the subterranean network into Gaza. In the past, the Jewish state has gone to great lengths to trade terrorists for its kidnapped soldiers. Recently, 1,000 Palestinian terrorists were exchanged for a single Israeli, Gilad Shalit, who was held for years in Gaza.
With a citizen army, Israel lives out the ethos that no soldier will be left behind on the field of battle. It’s a sacred covenant that the country must maintain if it is going to ask all Israelis, male and female, to serve for years in active military service and then as reservists.
At the moment, Iron Dome batteries are positioned strategically throughout Israel to form a shield for their population against incoming rocket fire from Gaza. The sophisticated system picks up rockets immediately after firing and algorithms instantaneously determine the flight path of the missiles. If they are headed into an unpopulated area, then the system holds its fire and allows the rockets to explode in empty fields. If the Iron Dome radar determines that the rocket is headed into a population center, then a rocket is fired to intercept the incoming Palestinian missile.
The Israelis are able to afford the Iron Dome batteries and the warheads that comprise the system thanks to vital American military assistance. For that, and for the close military and intelligence cooperation, President Barack Obama deserves some credit. Yet the most stalwart support for Israel continues to come from the legislative branch.
Congress approves military funding for Israel each year, and throughout the Obama administration, the Republican-held House and the Democratic Senate have been united in their support for our closest ally in the Middle East.