TEL AVIV — For thirty-eight terrifying minutes on Saturday, Hawaii residents unfortunately experienced a sampling of life in Israel during recent wars here when Hawaiians received a mistaken emergency alert notification warning of a “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii.”
Gov. David Ige said the false alarm was a human error caused when the wrong button was pushed during a shift change at the state emergency management agency. The warning was issued amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and some in Hawaii may have feared an incoming nuclear attack. The mistake was reportedly corrected 38 minutes later by a second message confirming the false alarm.
The error is unacceptable and warrants the “full investigation” promised by the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
While Israelis have not contended with nuclear missile attacks, the entire country lives under rocket threat and has experienced sustained rocket attacks punctuated by alerts that leave only seconds to find shelter.
The scenes that unfolded in Hawaii, with people reportedly left “crying and screaming,” could have taken place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa or Sderot. At this point, however, most Israelis, especially those living along the Gaza wire, have become so accustomed to rocket alerts that there seems to be a lot less panic.
The rocket risk here underscores the strategic threat posed to the Jewish state by territorial withdrawals, and the projectile threat must be taken into consideration when foreign diplomats call for Israel to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
Upon first arriving in Israel in 2005, I lived as an American reporter for four months in Ganei Tal, one of the Jewish communities that comprised Gush Katif, Israel’s slate of towns located inside the Gaza Strip. Back then, there were no rocket alerts. There was no Iron Dome anti-missile system. The only warnings we received were the high-pitched hums of incoming Qassam rockets and mortars, leaving nearly no time to seek shelter. Gush Katif residents went about their daily lives knowing that at any moment their location could and sometimes would come under rocket attack.
As Israel’s August 2005 disengagement from Gaza approached, Gazan terrorists increased the frequency of rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers in Gush Katif. I remember a period in which Gush Katif was hit by a dozen or more Qasam rockets per day.
That summer, national radio host John Batchelor and I broadcast under rocket threat from inside Gush Katif, where we repeatedly warned that if Israel went through with its Gaza evacuation, Hamas would likely take over the Strip and use the territory to stage rocket attacks eventually targeting Tel Aviv and beyond. In 2005, the possibility of Tel Aviv being hit by rockets from Gaza was considered quite remote within Israeli society.
Less than two years later, Hamas ran Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces out of the costal enclave and formally took full control of the Gaza Strip. The terrorist groups in Gaza have since initiated two wars that put central Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, under rocket attack. Gaza-based terrorist organizations routinely launch rockets at nearby Israeli towns such as Sderot.
Southern Israel has been rocketed by jihadist groups based in the Egyptian Sinai, while the Israeli north has been sporadically struck by projectiles fired by Syrian rebels and targeted with rockets launched by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization.
Israel’s Iron Dome successfully protects against many rocket attacks, but some still get through. The system can be overwhelmed by a large terror rocket volley. Warning sirens and text message alerts give central Israel about one to two minutes to find shelter, while those living in Sderot have about 45 seconds or less.
Despite the disastrous consequences of Israel’s Gaza disengagement, there are widespread calls for Israel to give up large swaths of the strategic West Bank (which is dotted with ancient Jewish communities and some of Judaism’s holiest sites) and eastern Jerusalem in a future deal with the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank borders Israel’s international airport and central population centers.
Such a deal is being pushed amid ongoing attempts to form a unity government between Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas terrorists and in spite of Abbas’s monumental weakness and unpopularity. Only last month, Israel’s Shin Bet security services estimated that Hamas is poised to take over the West Bank due to Abbas’s weak position. Regardless, Israel’s so-called peace partner, Abbas’s PA, is not a moderate entity seeking to live in peace with the Jewish state. The PA incites violence, pays anti-Israel terrorists and uses its official organs to push anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel.
January 13, 2018 should be remembered as a day when Hawaii’s Civil Defense failed the people of the state. The scenes in Hawaii should also be recalled the next time someone demands that Israel vacate strategic territory to an enemy with a vast and expanding rocket arsenal.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.