By Vida Velasco
It is around 4:25pm Eastern Time on Thursday, 14 March. One of my colleagues calls out from his office, “Did you hear that there were rockets fired at Tel Aviv just now?” The red alert app on my phone had not gone off, so I had not heard.
I quickly checked a few news sources, and two rockets had indeed been fired towards Tel Aviv. Since I have people living there who are precious to me, I messaged several through WhatsApp to make sure they were out of harm’s way. Their responses were a relief…
“I was doing dishes and making dinner. I actually turned the oven off while we were waiting for the all clear, and then turned it back on after, and the sitting in the oven made the salmon super juicy. We just stood in the hallway and closed the bathroom doors. My building doesn’t have a shelter. It was a very nonchalant affair.”
Another dear friend sent me a photo of a packed crowd watching the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team play Andalou Efes, a basketball team from Turkey. “Everything is great” his message said. That, of course, was aside from the fact that Tel Aviv ended up losing the game.
Other friends merely sent me a thumbs-up in response, letting me know they were fine.
With my heart calm, my thoughts turned to something I have thought of often over the years. How this should not be normal, not only for the people who I love, but for everyone in the area who has been affected by attacks such as these for many years.
Since 2001, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, indiscriminately firing into cities and communities. Hamas is officially designated a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its sole reason for existence is to replace Israel with a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. Hamas will use any and all means to achieve this goal.
These relentless attacks have had a devastating impact on people in Israel and the Gaza Strip. It is the cause of continued hostility. Israel has the right to defend itself and to live in peace. The people in Gaza deserve better leadership who do not put them at risk and continue stirring up conflict. This will only happen when we unify to make peace possible.
Let us pray and work to enable the children of Israel to have hope for the future. A day in which peace and prosperity, not enduring rocket attacks, will become the new normal!