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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My country is under fire - do you know what that's like?

You may not understand what it's like to be under rocket fire, but Prime Minister Netanyahu gave the foreign diplomatic corps a taste of it on Monday.
In the middle of the day, Netanyahu invited all the foreign ambassadors in Israel to talk with him in Ashkelon about the Gazan rockets.
They met in a large unprotected auditorium along the seashore that was within rocket range, so he could make the case that the violent barrage against Israel’s citizens was intolerable.
To his left as he spoke, laid out on a table was a small arsenal of rockets and missiles that had been launched into Israel, including a Kassam, a Grad and a Katushya of Iranian or Chinese origin.
From the podium, Netanyahu looked out at the ambassadors who sat on rows of folded chairs.
To underscore their vulnerability, Netanyahu told them, “If an alarm is sounded, all of us have exactly 30 seconds to find shelter.”
He explained that they were not the only ones in danger.
“This is the situation in which one million Israelis find themselves.
That’s families, old people, children, babies,” he said.
They are targeted on a daily basis by those who took over the area that Israel vacated in 2005 when it withdrew from the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu continued, saying that those who launch the rockets hide behind civilians in Gaza so they can target Israeli civilians.
“I don’t know of any of the citizens of your cities, who could find that acceptable and something that could proceed on a normal basis,” he said.
“The whole world understands that this is not acceptable,” Netanyahu said.
He added that neither he nor the people of Israel would continue to tolerate it.
“Any fair-minded person in any fair-minded government in the world would understand that it’s our right to defend our people, and this is what we shall do,” Netanyahu said.
To help the ambassadors understand the situation, the Prime Minister’s Office also showed them video clips of Palestinians launching rockets and of Israeli citizens from the South diving for cover.
On the stage with Netanyahu was Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin and Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter.
Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot residents were also present to tell the ambassadors what it felt like to live under constant threat of attack.
French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told The Jerusalem Post that the visit did underscore the vulnerability of southern residents to rocket attacks, as did the testimony of the residents.
“It was a way for all of us to get a hint of what these people [southern residents] experience,” he said.
Bigot noted that during his six years in Israel, he has made many solidarity visits to the South, as well as to the North during the Second Lebanon War.
“I stayed for three hours in Haifa. There were three alerts and I had to run to the bomb shelter three times,” Bigot said.
The prime minister, he said, described what had happened, but not what would happen.
I just hope that Netanyahu is as brilliant a military tactician as he is a diplomatic tactician (a quality we've seen in him for over 30 years going back to his stint as UN Ambassador during the Second Lebanon War). With all the whining over what a war mongerer he is, Netanyahu has initiated zero military actions in his two terms as Prime Minister. None. That may be about to change really soon.

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