Published by: New York Post

November 17, 2012 5:00am

In 2005, Israel uprooted the lives of thousands of Israelis and dozens and dozens of thriving Jewish communities in the hope that Gaza would become the “Singapore of the Middle East.” In reality the Gaza Strip has become a haven of terror. The ruling government provides a breeding ground for terrorist groups to organize and operate, including groups associated with al Qaeda and Global Jihad. All this under the rule, responsibility and sponsorship of Hamas. Weapons smuggled from Libya, Iran and Sudan helped turn Gaza into a terror base where weapons are hidden under beds and in schools.

A week ago, Hamas terrorists decided it’s time for yet another killing spree. They chose to target an army vehicle with four soldiers in it, who were injured during the attack. Three days ago Paz Azran, a teenage girl from Ashkelon, a major city in the south of Israel, celebrated her brother’s bar mitzvah to the wailing of sirens and sounds of missile alarms. This is just one story of many; of Israelis living and working along the border with Gaza, exposed to such dangers, which they must endure on a daily basis.

More than 800 rockets have been fired at Israel since the start of 2012 — a total of 12,000 (!) in the past few years. Over 1 million innocent men, women and children have had their lives changed as terrorists have been operating in the Gaza Strip under the rule of Hamas — an organization deemed a terrorist group by Israel, the State Department, the European Union and others. An average number of 10 (!) Israelis lost their lives each year since 2006 due to these missiles. There are children in Israel that have lived their entire lives under the fear of rocket fire. No child deserves this life. No parent deserves this fear. It is the obligation of all governments to protect their citizens. No responsible government should allow such ferocious indiscriminate attacks on its people, interrupting daily lives, forcing 5-year-olds into shelters in the middle of the night. The Israeli government cannot — and will not — allow its citizens to live in a constant state of fear.

Fifteen seconds. That is how long you have to find shelter once a rocket has been launched from Gaza into Israel. Fifteen seconds. That is all the time you have. Day and night. Taking a shower or shopping in the grocery store. It doesn’t matter where you are, the time remains the same. Fifteen seconds. This is no way to live. The situation must change.

Lulls have been negotiated. Lulls have been broken by rocket fire aimed at Israel. Israel has demonstrated great restraint for a long period of time — too long a time. No other state would accept a similar reality and neither should Israel.

The current actions of Israel are purely in self-defense and out of its duty to protect its civilians from terrorist attacks.

Sovereignty. Who holds responsibility for the rocket attacks from Gaza? Sovereignty seems to be the operative word: Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and is responsible for all that occurs in Gaza and all that is launched from there. As such, they are responsible for the attacks emanating from their area into Israel.

These terrorists are nothing but cowards. They hide among the civilian population. They attack Israel and then go into hiding among the masses. They deliberately direct fire at Israeli civilian populations in Israel. These acts constitute a double war crime. In sharp contrast, the targets of the Israeli operation are all military. Israel will make every effort to prevent harm to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets any injury to civilians. We have no intention of harming anyone who desires peace and tranquility; hence the border crossings from Israel to the Gaza Strip remain open, allowing for the routine passage of goods and humanitarian aid.

So, what should be done at this point? We believe the international community must act to stop the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and should not wait for an Israeli reaction to act. Time and again, Israel has warned that it would not tolerate these attacks. Lastly, before one paints Israel’s actions as some sort of escalation of the conflict, remember the timeline. Remember how long these rocket attacks have been going on for. Remember Hamas’ charter, calling for the annihilation of Israel. One thing is clear — Israel must maintain its ability to defend itself.

If Jim is able to sleep through the night in Seattle, and Ibrahim in Amman, then so should Paz in Ashkelon. That is all we ask.