Siren sounds - 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter.
Less than three weeks ago I left the safety of my home, wife and kids in Florida and traveled to Sderot in southern Israel to personally witness the terror that Hamas missiles have caused the Israeli population. I was accompanied by David Phillips, CEO of the Palm Beach Jewish Federation and a father of two, and Benjamin Gordon, a leading CEO and philanthropist who also has two children.
12 seconds - Where is the shelter?
At the time of my visit, while cognizant of the omnipresent threat facing Israel from its neighbors, I could not fathom what was looming on the horizon. I was also largely unaware of the sheer numbers of missiles that have been launch toward Israel in the past decade. Since 2004 Hamas has launched more than 8,000 missiles toward these Sderot and other Israeli cities. In the past week alone, more than 800 missiles have been fired by Hamas, including toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
10 seconds - Where are my children?
Yet before this week, despite being an American Jew and having visited Israel on several occasions, I was largely unaware of these terrorist attacks. Mainly because Israel showed restraint in absorbing these attacks. But make no mistake, these missiles attacks are terrorism,. The people launching them are terrorists and should be treated as such. The missiles are not aimed at military targets. Each of the cities being attacked by Hamas are within the pre-1967 borders of Israel. The only goal of these missiles is to terrorize a civilian population -- attacking children, the elderly and the infirm.
8 seconds - Where is my wife?
From the moment the siren is sounded residents have 15 seconds to find their families and get them to a shelter before the missile explodes. 15 seconds to help the elderly and disabled to a shelter. 15 seconds before the missile impacts into their homes, their schools, their hospitals, their shopping malls. This is the daily threat faced by Israeli civilians.
6 seconds - Where are my parents?
While walking down the street in Sderot, I could not help but constantly look around and wonder where I would go if I had only 15 seconds to find a shelter. I am a relatively healthy 39-year-old man but I imagined if I had my two kids with me, ages 1 and 2, could I gather them quickly enough to get us all to a shelter? What if they were separated by some distance? Would I have to choose? What about my wife? Could I get to her in time? Now what about the elderly or infirm?
4 seconds - What about him?
We had the privilege of being escorted around town by a physically challenged Israeli man. There was no way he could move fast enough to get to a shelter more than a few feet away. What about him? No one should be forced to make these decisions.
2 seconds - The shelter is too far.
When not being attacked, residents of these towns suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Their children, also suffering from PTSD, often wet their beds well into their teenage years. Yet, where was the international condemnation? Where was the media coverage? As it often does, the world community stood idly by while Israel was attacked. The news media was similarly silent. In this age of sensational news coverage, it simply was not sexy for the media to cover yet another terrorist attack against Israel. It took Israel finally defending itself, by killing a Hamas terrorist and striking other terrorist operations, before the media took notice -- and what did they say? That Israel was attacking Gaza. For that lazy and misinformed coverage, the media should be ashamed.
1 second - Are we going to make it?
It is time that the world recognized that there is no justification for one missile being fired at Israel, let alone 8,000. There is no justification for entire populations living under a constant fear of terrorist attack. There not justification for parents having to choose which child to save.