I spent Thursday in Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, Ashkelon and Sderot–the Israeli cities under Hamas fire. I spoke to dozens of Israelis; support for Operation Pillar of Defense was unanimous, though no one thought it would bring lasting peace. Most felt it would bring temporary quiet; many believe that Israel needs to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.
At a commercial center in Kiryat Malachi, a short walk from the apartment building where three Israelis were killed Thursday morning by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, an elderly man selects tomatoes at a small produce stand. The 74-year-old man, who immigrated to Israel from Algeria with his family when he was a teenager and who does not wish to be identified, says that he is not worried about additional rockets.
“I’m safe here,” he says, as he examines a tomato, “I’m following the [Israeli Army Home Front Command’s] directions and doing what they say. So there’s no problem.”
The father of six and grandfather of nine said that he like most Israelis support “Operation Pillar of Defense,” which has taken the life of 15 Palestinian residents of Gaza since it began on Wednesday.
“I support our [army] officers, Defense Minister [Ehud Barak], and Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu],” he adds.
Two men, sipping beer out of plastic cups outside of a nearby cell phone accessories store, voice similar feelings.
Eli Chalilo, a 38-year-old who emigrated from Uzbekistan with his parents when he was 18, says, “Right now we feel fine, but this morning was a little stressful.” He adds that his house is just 200 meters from the building that was hit by a rocket.
Chalilo, who is currently unemployed, wears a white sweat suit and sunglasses. He sent his two children to family in Jerusalem because he is worried about their safety. But, he adds, he is not concerned about his own security. He points to the sky, “God’s up there.”
The two men are joined by Eli Pozielov, 31, the owner of the cell phone accessories store. The father to three children, aged three, four and five, says, “My kids are crying. They’re scared, I’m scared, I don’t know what to do, where to go.”Read More