This feels familiar. Israeli troops massing on the border. Ambulances screaming round corners. Crying teens. Bullish IDF generals.
That’s what’s familiar to the man on the street in London, reading his newspaper, casually watching the morning news on TV, before he flicks over to the latest World Cup highlights.
What feels familiar to the man on the street in Tel Aviv? It’s the mad dash to the shelter. It’s the wail of sirens over the cries of his wife, screaming for their kid to get out from under the chair because rockets are flying overhead. It’s the knowledge that they have only 45 seconds to make it to safety. That Iron Dome doesn’t always work. That his mother can’t move so fast these days.
So who’s “familiar” is this? If it’s ours, then we may as well all go home and turn on the World Cup final. Because we’ve seen it all before. We know what’s coming next, give or take. We know this horror from afar. The story’s already written.
But if it’s the familiarity of Israelis – and it should be – then let’s all sit up and pay attention, because more than 40 percent of Israelis are now within range of rockets. That’s a campaign of terror in anyone’s eyes.
So, what would you do? Of course you’d hit back. And hit back Israel has. She always does. She always must.
More than 440 Israeli airstrikes to date sends a barrage and a message.
But behind the gunfire and the explosions, Israelis do all they can to hit only the guys they mean to, even issuing residents in accommodation blocks five minute telephone warnings before bombs fall in their direct areas.
The signs are ominous. This campaign is still in its infancy. But it needn’t be.
Hamas could call a stop to the rockets today. It could call for calm, step forward with a ceasefire, refrain from aggression.
But it won’t. Because it’s easier to hide behind civilians to attack civilians. Because fighting Israel and killing Jews is their demonic, psychopathic, genocidal raison d’etre (yet the BBC shamefully refers to them as ‘militants’. Arthur Scargill is a ‘militant’). And because Hamas knows that Israel has to respond.
That it also always has to justify that response is one our community’s biggest bugbears: you simply don’t see the same expectation placed on others, nor the same level of meticulous care to ensure pinpoint accuracy.
The worry of military planners now is how to hit Hamas once and for all, in a way that does not cause massive harm to the 1.7million citizens of the Gaza Strip, most of whom are no more terrorists than you or us.
They also worry about the safety of Israeli soldiers, who stand ready to cross into the Gaza Strip on land, into street-fighting and bed-to-bed searches with who-knows-what in store for them.
Compare that to the worry of Hamas, whose interest seems to be in winning the media war and to the worry of Israelis in the south, as 165 rockets fly over their heads in 24 hours.
This conflict looks familiar.
They all do.
But encourage people to ask: whose familiar is it?
And is that familiar acceptable?