Photo: Sderot Media Center Archive, Roi Idan

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the recent nationwide exercise in Israeli kindergartens and schools to test preparedness in the event of a rocket or missile attack. Sadly, already on Oct. 5 a rocket launched by terrorists in Gaza at the Israeli city of Sderot, forced hundreds of Israeli children to put this recent lesson to the test, as they had to take cover under their desks, not knowing whether they would live or die within the next few seconds. The rocket struck 300 feet from the school in a residential area. Miraculously, there were no physical injuries.

The psychological and mental injuries to the residents of Sderot, especially the young children, are a different issue. The terrorists know exactly what they are doing. They launch rockets during school hours so that the children will be terrorized with fear. In fact, this was the first school day after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

A mother told an Israeli news site how her children had called her up, crying hysterically for her to come to them, but she had difficulty reaching them quickly because of the traffic. A child, a fourth grader, recounted how all the children were reciting the Shema prayer (“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”) as they were hiding under their desks from the rocket attack.

Another girl, a sixth-grader, related how she felt during the attack. “I didn’t hear the siren,” she said. “Only a loud boom. I was really worried about my younger siblings. After that, we went outside and smelled burning. We were told that a Qassam had fallen next to the school.”

According to a study in 2015, around 40 percent of the children in Sderot suffer from symptoms of anxiety, fear and PTSD because of the rocket attacks from Gaza. That is three or four times higher than the rest of Israel. The fear takes many different forms. According to the study, some children are afraid of taking a bath, because they fear that a rocket attack will occur while they are in the bathroom and they will not be able to make it to the bomb shelter. Other children become scared of certain places, where they were during a rocket attack, such as the child who did not want to visit her grandmother because she had been to her place during a siren and was now afraid to go back.

However, the study also showed that most of the children and the parents deal with the situation with resilience. Studies conducted in the area over the past 10 years – Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005 and the Arabs in Gaza began firing rockets into Israel almost immediately after that – have proven that resilience is in fact the most common reaction among the children and adults of Sderot.

That resilience is the story of all of Israel, as it continues to be under enormous existential pressure for physical survival and the no less existential pressure to stand up to the increasing demonization. Not only does Israel not allow itself to collapse, it pushes ahead and miraculously even thrives in the process, dealing with all the issues as best it can.

Meanwhile, the large international media outlets mostly ignored the rocket attack on the Israeli residents of Sderot. Reuters had a typically and tellingly twisted headline, “Israeli aircraft attack Hamas in Gaza after rocket hits Israeli town.”

This is the rule the mainstream media follow whenever it comes to reporting missile attacks on Israeli civilians: Only report the news once Israel defends itself. Notice how the headline states that the rocket “hit an Israeli town,” as if the rocket had been aimed and fired by no one, but simply landed in Sderot by an inexplicable coincidence. There is no indication in the headline that somewhere in Gaza an Arab with murderous intentions launched his weapon of death.

Furthermore, pay attention to how effortlessly Reuters turned Israel into the aggressor by saying that Israel “attacked” Hamas in Gaza. Did anyone stop to ask Reuters, “Wait a minute – Israel ‘attacked’ Gaza? Who launched the Qassam rocket against Israeli civilians in Sderot?” Reuters does not care.

Nor does William Booth, Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post. After the rocket attack on Israel, he tweeted, “Gaza fires rocket at civilians & Israel pounds Gaza in reply.”

To begin with, firing a rocket at civilians is a war crime, which evidently does not concern William Booth the least bit. Nevertheless, considering that he is the chief of the Jerusalem bureau, he might be expected to at least aspire to the pretense of a modicum of journalistic integrity and at a minimum pretend to offer news, rather than Arab propaganda. Israel did not “pound” Gaza but performed surgical strikes, as it always does. Furthermore, “Gaza” did not launch the rocket, Arabs did. Why all this implicit media support of the war criminals in Gaza?

However, it does not stop with the media. There are those in the international community who would like to aid and abet the war criminals in Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza. Every year the so-called “Freedom Flotilla Coalition” sends a boat to Gaza to “end the siege.” This year they sent the “Women of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.” The flotilla activists have yet to discover that Israel left Gaza over 10 years ago. The “siege” they refer to is a legal naval blockade with the express purpose of preventing weapons from entering Gaza. Even the notoriously hostile U.N. acknowledged in a 2010 report, “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

Clearly, in today’s world, facts are considered expendable. Jewish lives even more so.

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