- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Thank you for your editorial “Tehran’s cannon fodder” (Dec. 30), observing that “Israel’s current military operation constitutes a legitimate act of self-defense against Iranian terrorist proxies.”

Since 2001, Iranian-backed Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. The stories of Israelis killed by these attacks are heart-wrenching. The first victims, on Sept. 29, 2004, were two children from Israel’s Ethiopian-Jewish community in Sderot, Dorit Benisian and Yuval Abebeh, ages 2 and 4. The children were killed by a Palestinian rocket while they played beneath an olive tree. No less heartbreaking are the stories of 17-year-old Ayala Haya Abukasis, who died while heroically shielding her 10-year-old brother Tamir from an exploding Palestinian missile; Afik Zahavi, age 4, killed when a rocket struck near a nursery school; and Dana Galkowicz, 22, killed while sitting on the porch with her fiance.

But Israel’s trauma goes far beyond those killed. Nearly one-third of Sderot’s 24,000 residents have fled and, according to a March 2008 study, more than a quarter of those who remain suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. More than half have had their homes hit by a rocket or shrapnel or know someone who was killed by a rocket. Many children are too traumatized to go to school.

While Israel desires peace, cease-fires alone cannot protect Israel’s citizens from terror. Hamas has not only violated every cease-fire by continuing its rocket assaults on Israel, but has also used each cease-fire to re-arm and to improve its missiles’ distance and accuracy. Hamas struck a Beersheba kindergarten 20 miles from Gaza on Tuesday and may soon be able to terrorize Tel Aviv. Hamas has also used cease-fires to dig tunnels under Gaza’s borders in order to smuggle weapons from Egypt and to kidnap 19-year-old Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, whom it seiz ed on June 25, 2006, and has held hostage ever since.

No country, least of all the United States, would tolerate such attacks on its citizens. As your editorial reminds us, when now-President-elect Barack Obama visited Israel in July 2008 and toured Sderot, he observed: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I´m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” As Israel faces yet another existential threat, it deserves our clear and unwavering support.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco, Calif.

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