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Understanding Israel: The Story of Sderot


On October 7th, most of us awoke to the news of Hamas terrorists' all-out assault upon the Israeli people. These events should have shattered the myth of a maligned Palestine and Gaza Strip subjugated by a domineering Israel.

Much of the fighting, in the first hours and days following the Hamas terrorists’ invasion, took place in the town of Sderot, an Israeli community located less than a mile from the Israeli-Gaza border. According to the Associated Press, following an initial wave of rocket attacks, Hamas fighters used explosives to penetrate the fenced border between Israel and Gaza, and used various motorized vehicles as well as wind gliders to cross deeper into Israeli territory. The rocket barrage by Hamas terrorists contained thousands of rockets, launched into Israel from across the border of Gaza, with estimates ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 rockets. After the inception of the attack, Palestinian terrorists managed to abduct Israeli civilians and soldiers – including elderly women as well as approximately 30 children – and transport them back across the border as hostages; these terrorists also dragged the bodies of dead Israeli soldiers through the streets, and the terrorists managed to penetrate several military installations. The terrorists also moved from house to house within Sderot, deliberately killing civilians, and torching homes in which civilians have taken up shelter. A Reuters photographer stated that he witnessed bodies strewn throughout the streets of Sderot.

Unfortunately, Sderot has a long history of suffering brutal attacks from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations. The continued existence of this community is a testament to the courage and resilience of the Israeli people.

During the Second Intifada – which could best be described as a Palestinian insurgent uprising against Israel, in which Palestinian terrorists brutally and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians and children with the support of the Palestinian Authority – Sderot was subjected to daily rocket attacks from Gaza.

Hamas terrorists also developed the brutal and disgusting strategy of attaching incendiary devices (IEDs) to children's party balloons, in hopes of killing Israeli children.

The result has been that Israeli children, particularly within the community of Sderot, have been denied any semblance of a normal childhood experience. In 2008, a study demonstrated that at least 75-percent of Israeli children who live in Sderot suffer from severe post-traumatic stress, due to the constant fear and uncertainty to which they've been subjected by Palestinian rocket attacks. That is a rate many times higher than Israel's nationwide average. The children who live on the Israeli-Gaza border have learned to fear children's balloons, and soccer balls dropped by the balloons, which can also be rigged with explosives; during the Second Intifada, the parents of these children were terrified to allow their kids to leave their homes or to play in parks. The IDF even wrote its own children's poem as part of a public awareness campaign, to educate Israeli children about the potential for dangerous, disguised explosives.

Macabre adaptations have emerged from the constant threat under which Sderot's population is forced to live, for example, in an attempt to restore a modicum of a life for Sderot's children, [the municipality] constructed an outdoor children's park with installations constructed from concrete that were intended to absorb the blast from incoming rocket-fire. For many of Sderot's children, it was their first opportunity to play outside, to simply exist outside of their homes with the veneer of peace.

Yet, inside the United States, it has become fashionable to criticize Israel, and to advocate for the severing of ties between our two nations. On college campuses across the U.S., students have denounced Israel as an apartheid-state, and chant "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." This slogan has particularly troublesome connotations, because it calls for the complete elimination of the Israeli state, and it is the rallying cry of a number of Palestinian terrorist organizations – notably, Hamas, the very organization that initiated October 7th’s brutal assault upon the innocent Israeli people. Those in the United States who adopt this slogan, do so despite knowing that it is a call for indiscriminate violence against Israeli Jews, tantamount to genocide.

The tragedies that have occurred within Israel, since that horrific Saturday morning, can in part be traced to the irresolute nature of the United States' historical record of support for Israel in recent years. These events should serve as a catalyst for a great deal of introspection within the United States, and particularly within certain progressive organizations and factions, those that have a long legacy of sabotaging efforts to increase support for Israel within the international community.

This aforementioned history of irresolute support for Israel is a record that President Joe Biden has rejected throughout his lifelong career as a civil servant, and continues to flout today. However, President Biden’s leadership seems to be a growing rarity. Every American citizen has a duty to call upon their elected representatives to ensure that the United States meets its responsibility to provide prompt and tangible support to the Israeli people, to assist them in fending off their attackers, and to ensure the permanent survival and future security of the State of Israel.

Logan Williams is a first-generation student at the University of Connecticut studying history with concentrations in Global Affairs and Environmental Studies. As a student, he has pursued research regarding Ukrainian history and national identity, hegemonic theory, the Cold War, and international development/liberalization processes. He is now beginning a career in foreign policy research at The Center for a Free Cuba, a Washington-based human rights organization dedicated to monitoring human rights abuses within Cuba and to advocating for Cuba’s eventual liberalization. His writing has been published in The American Spectator, Geopolitics Magazine, Modern Diplomacy, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Democracy Paradox, Diario Las Américas, International Affairs Forum, Fair Observer, etc.

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