Last night when I was sitting in my class at Tel Aviv University, I saw a tweet pop up from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official Twitter account. It announced an official operation against Gaza after the recent increase in rocket attacks fired against Israel civilians from the Gaza Strip by the terrorist organization Hamas.
As some of you may remember, a similar operation was launched in 2008 with Operation Cast Lead that did in fact deter rocket attacks, I can’t say I was upset or even concerned when I read this because I figured I was safe in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv, we were told, was pretty much safe from most rockets that Hamas fires because it’s a about 69 km away, with the exception of the Iranian Fajr-5 rockets that have 75 km range. Furthermore, I assumed that Hamas would not be foolish enough to attack Tel Aviv because the ramifications from the Israeli Army would be devastating for them.
I was wrong.
Israel began by taking out about 20 weapons caches in Gaza and assassinating the leader of Hamas Ahmed Jabari. This led to a major retaliation in the south of Israel (more than 275 rockets since last night). Then, this afternoon, Hamas fired Fajr-5 missiles at Tel Aviv for the first time in 20 years.
I was in Jerusalem helping with an emergency social media meeting for various pro-Israel groups and helping to disseminate information at the time of the attack, so I was safe. But all of my friends heard the rockets and the sirens, and we are all scared. Other friends in the neighboring city of Rishon Lezion heard rockets land near their homes, and Holon, another suburb of Tel Aviv, had sirens going off this afternoon as well.
Watching the videos of the neighborhoods I regularly bike around and hearing rocket sirens go off is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Of course I have always been supportive of Israel, but no one should have to live like this, ever. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live in southern Israel (only an hour or two away) under constant rocket fire.
I suspect that this is the beginning of an escalating conflict, and as I write this, I honestly don’t know where I will be staying for the next few days. I don’t know if it’s safe, or will be safe, and everything seems very confusing. I anticipate the IDF sending in ground troops as they just brought in 30,000 reserve soldiers. Although this is a very trying time, I believe this is a necessary escalation because Hamas firing rockets at innocent civilians is simply unsustainable.