“I want you to write this: We are willing to stay here as long as it takes for them [the IDF] to finish the job, to take care of this so it doesn’t happen again. To get rid of Gaza altogether, I don’t care,” one civilian told The Jerusalem Post, daughters in tow, hiding in a bomb shelter in Ashdod, southern Israel.
For Israeli citizens, the Post notes, the current Operation Protective Edge is an escalation that has completely changed their lifestyle. Several of those interviewed note that they never used to take air raid sirens too seriously or fear Hamas rocket attacks. After the deaths of several neighbors, the use of bomb shelters became necessary for survival.
“Two years ago we used to not take it so seriously, we’d go out to the windows and watch the Iron Dome shoot down the rockets,” said Reuven Elyan, a Kiryat Malachi resident. Now, he says, his family hides in the stairwells, and bomb shelters are more populated.
The shelters, the paper reports, are increasingly uncomfortable, as mothers flock with children to protect them. Dress codes for women are relaxed, and everything possible is done to keep the children entertained and limited in their fear, though the children can sense something has gone amiss. One woman tells the newspaper the shelter was her only choice because, from her home, she would only have time to save one of her two daughters should the air raid siren go off.
The Post notes that something about the character of people in southern Jerusalem has been altered by the threat. As one man puts it, before a series of attacks from Hamas, “we were like Tel Aviv people back then”–not particularly threatened by attacks from Gaza. Even for those in Tel Aviv, the situation is perilous: the IDF’s Iron Dome intercepted rockets heading precisely for that city Tuesday and flying over Jerusalem. Israelis with access to cell phones and the Internet have been using social media to convey their panic and give a sense of what the situation is like on the ground: the volume of images of children running for shelter and tweets from horrified Israelis grew exponentially throughout the past day.
While Hamas’ rockets fly over Israeli cities with no apparent target aside from Israeli lives, the IDF’s initiatives in Hamas-populated areas have been tightly controlled and targeted specific Hamas leaders, eliminating several Hamas targets while presenting a minimal threat to uninvolved parties. The Jerusalem Post reports that the homes of all known Hamas commanders were attacked Tuesday as part of Operation Protective Edge, as well as vehicles known to be owned by Hamas leaders. Four Hamas members were killed as part of an attack which killed Hamas commander Muhammad Sa’aban–the video of which has surfaced online: