Sounding the alarm

Sounding the alarm

In a letter shared with NJJN, Beth Arnstein, a former resident of South Orange, describes life under rocket attack in Israel’s South. Arnstein lives in Be’er Sheva, where sirens sound daily to warn of incoming rocket fire from Gaza. “The sound cuts right into you,” she writes. “While the siren is going off you can’t think of anything else but wonder where your loved ones are.” Arnstein has nearly a minute to find shelter when the alarm sounds; those living in Sderot and other towns close to the Gaza border have mere seconds. “Think…what it would be like if you had to live with the threat of that,” she writes, and “had to have that interrupt your meals, play time, shower, and your life. Think about how you would feel knowing your kids are in school,” in Be’er Sheva, which has been the target of hits.

“A million people here in the South live with it daily.”

The constant barrage from Hamas has forced Israel into a familiar quandary. Defense experts doubt that retaliatory air strikes alone can halt the attacks, raising the specter of another Israel land invasion of the Gaza Strip. Yet such an invasion would come with its own risks and huge human costs. At a time of strained relations between the Netanyahu government and the West, an aggressive response on Israel’s part would further alienate erstwhile friends.

And yet no government can sit by while its people flee into bomb shelters, children awaken to the sound of air raid alarms, and shells crash into school buildings and homes. While Israel should weigh all options before considering an irreversible ground attack in the crowded, volatile streets of Gaza, it should demand that the world pay attention to the daily outrages it faces. Now is the time for Israel and its friends to sound their own alarms, and demand that the world pay attention to the provocations of Hamas.

Israelis are divided on how to respond to the attacks. But few would disagree with Arnstein, when she proclaims, “It is time to stop being silent!”

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