Roni Yehieh, 47, a father of four, has died at Sapir Academic College, their first loss in four years of being bombarded by rockets. It is a tragic loss for his family and for the country. But the students at Sapir have remained strong, and have shown their determination today. David Barnan, the head of the Sapir College students' association, told the Jerusalem Post, "This is our country. We will stay alive,
we continue our studies, we will continue to do all the
things we need to do, and speaking for myself, I can say
we're not afraid of anyone."
I've found this attitude expressed by many people. Some have almost a "so what" approach to a rain of rockets. It has been eight years of almost constant attacks from Gaza.
It is now nine o'clock on the evening of February 27, and another rocket has just exploded nearby. Residents have become good at judging how far away the rocket landed by the sound of the explosion. I've been here only two weeks but already I can tell what has hit in farmland and what has landed on the kibbutz. Two have hit today close enough to shake the building I'm in. A routine develops as people rush out and look around, trying to determine where the rocket fell. Soon there is a rush in one direction, and everyone converges on what is just a hole in the ground, and then the army and police show up and make everyone get back.
There is something insane about this from an American perspective. I keep asking what would happen if a town in Mexico or Canada started firing rockets at a neighboring town
just a few miles across the border. We would pulverize them. The Mexican or Canadian town would just disappear into a pile of rubble and dust.
I ask an Israeli about this. "You can do that," he says. "You and the Russians would do that, because you are strong and a world power. We are a small country." And he leaves it at that.
But what would happen if Israel reacted by leveling major sections of Beit Hanun? World condemnation? They get that already. More sympathy for the Gazans? The world press already seems to love the Hamas-staged photo opportunities featuring children. Hamas has mastered the use of children for promoting their purposes.
No one has the answers to this low-level war that has been going on for years. But I am convinced of one thing: Hamas has it wrong. They will not make Sderot a "ghost town," as they have proclaimed. Instead they are creating a generation of tough and resilient Israelis who can deal with anything.
"I've never known anything but the bombing," says a young girl. "But I'm not leaving. This is my home."
I wish the guy in the next apartment would quit slamming his door. It sounds like a rocket landing about 800 yards away. Or maybe closer.
Kibbutz Nir-Am, February 27, 2008