On January 6, 2009, I wrote about what schools should be. I wrote about Israel hitting a school – to this day, the basic difference in what we target versus what they target continues to be ignored. We have never targeted a school (and yes, we have targeted mosques – those being used to hide explosives). When we target a building – even one known to have explosives, we do our best to avoid casualties. We warned the local population with millions of fliers dropped from the planes – move away, the fliers warned. This place is being used as an arsenal and we are going to destroy it. Time after time, Palestinians gathered to protect their weapons with their lives.
And still, Israel did what it could to avoid injuries. A school should be…so much more than the Palestinians allow it to be. Three years ago…and three years later, so little has changed.
What School Should Be… (reprinted from January 6, 2009)
My youngest children went to school today. Thousands of children in Israel did not. Some of their schools are protected, reinforced against missiles. That’s the result of more than 8 years of ongoing missile attacks. Though my children’s school isn’t protected from a potential missile attack, it does have a bomb shelter; it does have a high fence circling it to prevent terrorists from entering (even more, perhaps than preventing children from straying off), and it has a guard that watches as children enter and exit.
In the last few days, the police must have decided that all this was not enough, and so they have stationed police near each of the schools, armed and watching. Our children are our lives, our most precious treasures. Whatever it takes to keep them safe, will be done. That is the message Israel has sent to its citizens.
Several times over the past few years, our schools in the south have been hit by rockets. Last week, two schools and a kindergarten were hit. Thankfully, no one was hurt because our country deemed it too dangerous to allow our children to continue their studies, lest a missile hit there. Of course, it would have been nice if our government and the world stopped the missiles, but if they haven’t accomplished that yet, at least they were honest enough to tell parents to keep their children home. The priority has always been the lives of our children.
A few years ago, a young boy, only 4-years-old, was walking to nursery school with his mother when a rocket crashed and exploded next to them, just as they entered the school yard. Little Afik was killed, his mother seriously wounded. Afik’s parents had tried for years to have children and only after many many years of treatments, were they finally blessed with a beautiful baby boy…and then, on one horrible day, they lost their only child, Afik.
Rather than risk that and other tragedies, Israel has suspended school everywhere within 40 kilometers of Gaza. They did this because a school should be a place where children learn and play. Where there is light and knowledge. Most of all, it should be a place where children are safe, where they can grow and expand their knowledge in a protected environment. Today, in Gaza, a school was hit by an Israeli missile. The Palestinians claim dozens have died. It’s a horrible thing, a terrible tragedy, every parent’s nightmare.
Except that Israel’s initial inquiry into the incident, showed that the missile didn’t hit the “school” by mistake. The target was true; the aim was accurate. In August, last year, Israel filed a formal complaint with the United Nations, complaining about the school being used to fire against Israel. Israel has already identified Hamas gunmen who were killed at the scene of the attack – even publicized their names.
The proof that the building was a legitimate target was found, once again, in the secondary explosions that occurred. The missile hit the building, causing explosives inside the building to detonate. You can watch these and other videos on the web. You’ll see the initial explosion, and then, mere seconds later, multiple explosions and objects shooting high into the air.
If you hit a building that has no explosives, the building collapses and the only thing that rises into the air is dust and rubble. Nothing explodes – again, see all the videos of houses hit in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva. As horrible as it sounds, as tragic as the results are, the missile was accurate. It hit its target and did what it was supposed to do. Secondary explosions prove that the building was used to store rockets.
What it comes down to is a building from which mortars were shot, in which explosives were stored, and in which, Palestinians chose to teach their young. There is something incredibly sick about that.
There are rules in warfare and in life.
One rule: A civilized people should not target innocent civilians. This is what Hamas repeatedly has done for the last 8 years. This is NOT what Israel did today.
Second rule: An innocent civilian should not protect a terrorist location. If you are in a training camp – leave. If you are near a rocket launching site – run, and if you are sending your children to a school where rockets are stored and missiles and mortars are launched, be smart and stop sending your child because the government against whom those rockets and mortars are being shot, has the right to defend itself. School is important, but as Israel has shown in the last few days by canceling lessons, nothing is as important as life.
And there is an even more sinister issue here lurking under the surface of this story, one that I hope will come to light in the next few days. The United Nations and its involvement in Gaza is one that is as suspect as its involvement in Lebanon was years ago. Too often, they are “at the scene” and too often, they allow their “sanctuaries” to by used by terrorists who attack Israel. Their ambulances have been used by gunmen, and their school to be used as a launching ground for mortars.
Today Israel hit a target – a legitimate target used to launch mortars against our people. If, in addition to shooting mortars, that building was also used for classes, that doesn’t make it a school. A school should be a place of knowledge and growth. A school should be a place of safety and it seems rather obvious to me that a missile launching pad isn’t a safe environment, and therefore, no matter what the United Nations calls that building in Gaza, it was not a school.
A school cannot be a place for mortars…and a place with mortars cannot be a school. Golda Meir once said that there would be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.
Decades after she said that, generations have come and gone, and still that day has not arrived.