Rocket fire in the Gaza strip hits close to home

Israel and Palestine must prevent further bloodshed

I’m frightened. My younger sister, who will be a freshman at MIT next year, is currently hiding in a bomb shelter in Israel. My phone buzzes nonstop with worried calls from my mother, and texts from my sister with messages like “update: sirens went off, went to safe room, heard blast but out now,” and “wow that was loud … two more rockets fell near us, one was hit by iron dome and the other they say fell in the sea.” While my sister is handling the terrible situation well (she is mostly complaining that the rocket attacks are preventing her from seeing the new Twilight movie), the reality is that Israel has been thrown into turmoil by the constant barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza, which have made living everyday life impossible for millions of Israelis.

Since November 17th, Hamas and its terrorist allies in Gaza have hit Israel with over 700 rockets, frequently fired from schools, hospitals, residential homes, and other civilian areas in Gaza. This is done so that Israel cannot easily retaliate in self-defense, and is strapped with a moral dilemma: attack the Palestinian terrorists who are using innocent civilians as human shields, or do nothing and allow Hamas to continue terrorizing and killing innocent Israeli civilians. Israel has opted to prioritize self-defense, because as President Obama stated, “there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

Accordingly, Israel does all it can to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza while still targeting terrorists. For example, when operational conditions permit, the Israeli Defense Forces calls residents in Gaza and warns them before any strike in civilian areas, as well as disseminates leaflets to avoid harming bystanders. While Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets at Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, trying to kill as many people as possible, Israel works to surgically strike rocket-launching sites and avoid unnecessary death while still upholding Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, as recognized in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter that states “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”

Current estimates say that over 50 people have died from the violence since it escalated last Wednesday. Considering the fact that over 700 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza this week, it is extremely fortunate that the death toll is not higher. This is largely thanks to the United States’ support of Israel’s Iron Dome system, which is a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets fired at civilian centers.

But the fact remains that if these rocket attacks continue to be launched from Gaza, Israel may need to launch a ground operation to wipe out the terrorist infrastructure. This would be extremely devastating to both the Israelis and Palestinians, and would significantly increase the death toll on both sides. If Hamas truly cared about the people of Gaza, then they would stop launching rockets at Israel and prevent an escalating situation that, at this pace, will lead to much blood shed.

Currently, there are talks in Cairo trying to bring about a cease-fire, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would consider a comprehensive cease-fire if the launchings from Gaza stopped. This would be an ideal outcome, because it would end the violence and preclude a bloody ground operation. My sister delayed coming to MIT and took a gap year to tutor underprivileged children in Israel, not to sit in a bomb shelter. Hopefully, for everyone’s peace of mind, the violence will stop soon and normal life can resume.

However, it is important to note that even if a cease-fire is reached, there is nothing stopping Hamas from breaking that cease-fire at any moment, repeatedly plummeting Israel into a state of fear and terror. Israel needs to make sure that Hamas is crippled enough that repeated attacks are less likely and less damaging, if not impossible. After all, if Mexico were sending rockets into California, President Obama would not hesitate for a second in defending our nation and preventing future attacks. The same is true of the Jewish State, and Prime Minister Netanyahu must take action to prevent future violence from escalating, as much as possible, in the future.

Adam about 10 years ago

Did your sister end up watching Twilight, because you know, children in Gaza did..!


Arafat about 10 years ago

Israel's problem is that it is surrounded by an expansionist, totalitarian, theocratic political movement that is 1400 years old and for which compromise is impossible except for short term tactical purposes. Part of the core theology of that movement says that once a piece of the earth has been dominated by Islam, it must always be dominated by Islam. The Jews offend against that, and because of that offense, and the profound Jew-hatred in the Qur'an, a continual jihad is waged using all kinds of means with the purpose of wiping Israel from the face of the earth. That's the problem faced by Israel.

Adam about 10 years ago

Mr Arafat, a quick look through the surrounding countries, reveals how Arab countries have perfect relations with Israel (peace treaties, economics, gas supply,...) and how your comment has nothing to do with what's going on in Gaza itself. It is occupation, recognized by all international bodies! If Islam is promoting Jihad against Jews, what's promoting the barbarism of Israel. Judaism? Definitely not! It is the country itself..

Anonymous about 10 years ago

Its funny you say "Israel works surgically" when the number of civilian casualties in Gaza killed by the IDF far exceeds the number of civilian casualties in Israel killed by Hamas, keeping in mind Israel uses far superior technologies to direct its rockets.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

Wow, way to ignore facts and historical realities! I'd like to share this article by Prof. Chomsky on life in Gaza under the Israeli occupation -- http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12635-noam-chomsky-my-visit-to-gaza-the-worlds-largest-open-air-prison .

Also, there's a vigil for Gaza today (Nov 20) at 5:30 pm (if I'm not wrong) at 77 Mass Ave.

Alan about 10 years ago

Israel, its government, and supporters are cowards.

Noam about 10 years ago

Yeah everyone should come today. The vigil is at 5:30 at 77 Mass Ave.

Come show your support for the oppressed in Gaza.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

To Rachel: This article is clearly biased. You claim that the crux of the problem is the firing of rockets by Hamas. This is in fact false. The crux of the problem is Israel's siege on Gaza that makes life for Gazans unbearable. The rocket fire by Hamas and other fringe groups is merely a response to Israel impeding on Gaza's sovereignty.

Also Rachel, if you want to see how the status quo, even without the rockets, is unsustainable for Gazans, I urge you (and others) to read this report by the UN, that estimates that under continued siege, the Gaza Strip will become unlivable by the year 2020: http://www.scribd.com/doc/104094048/Gaza-in-2020-A-livable-place

Likewise, the scale of suffering on both is not equatable. Just a few days ago, a family of 10 gazans were killed in their sleep. If this happened in Israel, there no doubt in my mind that you'd decry it as the war crime that it is. However, it happened to be a family on the wrong side of the green line, so you find it less worth discussing than your sister's desire to see Twilight. Really?

To Alan: I can tell you that just as it is unfair to hold the people of Gaza accountable for Hamas' actions, it is likewise unfair to hold Israelis accountable for its government' actions (as you do). Look up Meretz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meretz), a left-wing Israeli political party that stands for human rights, peace, environmentalism, and more.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

#1 - in the movie theater in Gaza that Hamas destroyed?

#3 - treaties with 2 out of what, 19 more Arab League countries still technically at war with Israel?

#5 - take a look at this city and tell me if it is a horrible place


Anonymous about 10 years ago

9 -

Did you even read the article by Prof. Chomsky?


"Gaza has the look of a Third World country, with pockets of wealth surrounded by hideous poverty. It is not, however, undeveloped. Rather it is "de-developed," and very systematically so, to borrow the term from Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza.

The Gaza Strip could have become a prosperous Mediterranean region, with rich agriculture and a flourishing fishing industry, marvelous beaches and, as discovered a decade ago, good prospects for extensive natural gas supplies within its territorial waters."

And read the rest of the stuff which shows how Gaza is being made unlivable, literally, as the link #8 posted.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

The reason that there are so few Israeli casualties is because America has funded the Iron Dome system which protects Israel from the thousands of rockets aimed at civilians. Remember, Hamas does not aim these rockets at army bases. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are not army bases! Hamas has taken no measures to differentiate between civilians and soldiers. Rather, they randomly send rockets into residential areas. School has been canceled in Southern Israel this past week because of these rockets. Except for one military casualty, the rest of the deaths in Israel have all been civilians. I too have many friends in Israel right now that are living in fear that a rocket might fall on them since there is no system or order in Hamas' sending of rockets. Many of my friends had to run to bomb shelters today because Hamas sent a rocket into Jerusalem. I have visited the playgrounds in Southern Israel that are made out of concrete to protect children from rockets and the bomb shelters that line every street in Israel. Here is a video of Palestinean protesting in Jerusalem, finding cover from a rocket sent from Gaza! Arabs and Jews alike are in danger of rocket attacks from Hamas.


In addition, Hamas uses its citizens as human shields. They place their own citizens in danger by shooting rockets out of residential areas. They place their stockpiles of rockets near civilians, risking the lives of their own citizens! Here are videos from Al-Aqsa (Hamas) TV of rockets fired from residential areas within Gaza.


In contrast, Israel drops leaflets and sends text messages in areas that will have a strike in order to give fair warning for the civilians in those areas to evacuate. Yet, Hamas encourages its citizens to stay, putting their lives in danger. Here is a transcript from an interview on Al-Quds Radio:

Question: As the bombings go on, I want to address a specific issue: People have been receiving text messages urging them to evacuate their houses

Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesperson: This is all part of the psychological warfare held by the Zionist enemy So by using this way of communication, our public radio, I address all our Palestinian brothers by saying: Please do not listen to the orders noted on these text messages, their only purpose is spreading fear and panic within our people.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

#11: The only reason Hamas rockets are fired "randomly" rather than being targeted towards military bases is the following: Hamas doesn't receive Billions of US military aid like Israel does. If Hamas had Apache helicopters and guided munitions (just some of Israel's weapons), Gaza wouldn't be in the state it is today. For Hamas, and many others in Gaza, the only form of armed resistance is in sending crude, unguided missiles into Israel in order to try and turn the world's view towards the plight of Gaza under Israel's blockade. While Hamas operating out of densely populated neighborhoods goes against the sanctity of human life, it is because the people of Gaza are so desperate for the blockade to be lifted, so they can again engage in trade and make a better life for them and their children.

Chris B about 10 years ago

U and ur sister, get a life!!! What is a one-time thing for ur sister is a constant daily fear of a Gazan kid. And if you're sister got to MIT, gazan students were prevented from doing the SAT this year because your government didnt allow it.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

Interesting reading: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/omar-baddar/5-lies-the-media-keeps-re_b_2160239.html

Citing: "2 [of 5 lies the media keeps repeating about Gaza]. Israel Tries to Avoid Civilian Casualties

It must be aggravating for Israel's propagandists when high-ranking political officials slip and get off the sanitized/approved message for public consumption. Yesterday, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the "goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages." Not to be outdone, Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, said "we need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza." If you're thinking this is just rhetoric, consider the fact that, according to Amnesty International, Israel "flattened... busy neighborhoods" into "moonscapes" during its last major assault on Gaza in 2008/09. And it wasn't just human rights organizations that were exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza, but Israeli soldiers whose conscience could not bear to remain silent about the atrocities they had committed were also coming forward.

If, for some odd reason, you cannot decide whether it is official Israeli spokespersons or soldiers of conscience and human rights investigators who are telling the truth, consider this question: If Hamas has only managed to kill 3 people despite being bent on killing civilians with thousands of indiscriminate rockets, how has Israel managed to kill several dozen Palestinian civilians when it is using sophisticated precision weapons to avoid civilian casualties? In just one Israeli attack yesterday, Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in a matter of minutes than the total number of all Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza over the last 3 years. The truth is exposed by the utter disregard for civilian life we see in practice, reaffirmed by testimonies and investigative evidence."

Anonymous about 10 years ago

It's also amusing that the author cites President Obama and his philosophy on war and retaliation. Just read these articles to see what hypocrites this administration is filled with --

Glenn Greenwald -- "Just this week, President Obama managed with a straight face to defend Israel's attacks on Gaza with this decree: "there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders." As Liliana Segura, Jemima Khan and Reason's Mike Riggs all quickly noted, this pronouncement came from the same man who has continuously rained down missiles on the citizens of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries."




Omri about 10 years ago

"Its funny you say "Israel works surgically" when the number of civilian casualties in Gaza killed by the IDF far exceeds the number of civilian casualties in Israel killed by Hamas, keeping in mind Israel uses far superior technologies to direct its rockets."

The number of civilian casualties in Israel has been small precisely because the IDF has been good at killing Hamas rocket crews and blowing up Hamas rocket arsenals.

However, the ratio of civilians killed to total killed among Gazans is far lower than the ratio of civilians killed to total killed among Israelis, which shows that Hamas is targetting civilians, but is thankfully being thwarted.

Omri about 10 years ago

"This is in fact false. The crux of the problem is Israel's siege on Gaza that makes life for Gazans unbearable. "

Actually, Hamas's rocket campaign came before the Gaza blockade. The blockade is specifically in place to deprive Hamas the means to build a rocket arsenal.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

17 - because food makes the best rockets, I see now!

Adding "actually" in front of your claim does not make it correct.

Omri about 10 years ago

"Adding "actually" in front of your claim does not make it correct.


The rockets began right after the evacuation of Jewish villages from the Gaza Strip, and before the blockade.

The blockade began in order to deprive Hamas of the components of their home made rockets.

It's the simple chronology of the event, try as you might to deny it.

Anonymous about 10 years ago


Are you completely sure about that chronology?

Arafat about 10 years ago

The Palestinians would spin George Orwells head around.

They slit Jewish children throats and are cheered by their demented brothers and sisters and leaders and imams for doing so.

They indiscriminately blow-up Israeli buses and then get streets named after them for doing so.

They then whine, bitch and complain when Israel builds a separation barrier to protect her children from inhumane psychopaths who are praised for killing three-month old children.

A sicker more pathological society would be hard for George Orwell to have imagined.

The Palestinians are professional victims.

They shoot thousands of rockets into Israeli town centers shouting out Allahu Akbar as the rockets leave their launch platforms.

They shoot thousands of rockets during Israels rush hour and when school lets out invoking Allahs good will that the rockets kill women and children.

They then whine, bitch and moan when Israel targets their bloodthirsty terrorist rocket-making-and-shooting thugs who cower behind womens skirts and alongside school children underneath their school desks as they hide from Israels attempt to bring justice to these child-murdering-Islamo-facists.

What a truly pathetic, hypocritical, despicable people the Palestinians are. George Orwell would vomit at the thought that their behavior is rationalized by the intellectual elite.

Arafat about 10 years ago

Are people who support Hamas akin to people who supported the Nazis?

Seems to me it is.

Nazis destroyed Jews. Hamas never stops talking about destroying Jews. Nazis depicted Jews as beneath contempt just as Hams does. Nazis blamed Jews for all their problems and so does Hamas.

Seems to me the only difference is Hamas does not have the rocketry required to really kill the Jews. If they did have these weapons everyone knows they would use them as indiscriminately as the Nazis did.