It appears we must adjust to a different terminology than the one we have been using so far. The term “war”, does not fit the situation in the south, a better name would be ‘low intensity violence’. We shall call it an “Intensity Conflict”, one that has been going on steadily over a long period of time, and which creates a cumulative effect on both sides. In addition to the trauma on its direct victims, such warfare is bad for Israeli society, which finds it difficult to accept casualties, and refuses to accept the fact that only one part of the population is caught up in the conflict, while the majority is exempt.
We, in Israel, are familiar with this situation; we have experienced it before, but it is still intolerable to all who fear for the well-being of the residents of Sderot and its surroundings.
The simple truth is that there is no end in sight for Kassam rockets, missiles, or any other tactics employed by the terrorists in Gaza. There may be a rise or fall in various parameters, but no true ending, and certainly no victory as we would have liked. In reality, that is just not possible. And it’s not because Israel is weak, but because that is the nature of this kind of conflict.
More than anything, Israel must be ready for a psychological war, which requires different means and tools than the wars to which we have become accustomed over the course of our rich history.
Success in a war such as this lies in our ability to isolate the area under attack and concentrate our efforts on making sure they are prepared, while the rest of the population and the state go on normally, without disruption.
This does not mean that the fate of the area’s residents is not the concern of the state, but rather, that any other behavior would be perceived as a triumph on the part of the terrorists.
It is clear that Israel should avoid a ground offensive that will evoke an international reaction as well as many civilian casualties; this is exactly what Hamas expects. The continued fortification of Sderot and the surrounding region, along with the massive support of the population and a long, persistent military offensive, is the correct course of action.
We, too, have our role to play. In an immediate response to the deterioration of the security situation, UJC and its partners have stepped in. Twenty four families in the Western Negev who have fallen victim to the attacks have received emergency support, sometimes including food vouchers. They will later be able to apply to the Israel Emergency Campaign-supported Fund for the Victims of Terror to receive additional assistance. Yehuda Sharf, the Jewish Agency's representative in Sderot, is making every effort to identify other ways to provide relief and help residents submit their applications to the Fund. Furthermore, the IEC Work Group recently met to discuss further aid to Sderot which will, no doubt, be implemented soon.
As in the past, we must continue to show our solidarity with the besieged residents of the Western Negev in any and every way we can and let them know that we are always at their side. And we can only hope they will not have to spend this Shabbat in their shelters.
Senior Vice President, UJC
Director-General, External Relations, UJC Israel