Israel’s rockets’ red glare

By Jonathan Feldstein

Americans around the world are celebrating independence today with vacations, outings, sales, barbeques, fireworks and more. As Americans were waking up, Israelis experienced a modern “rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” Unfortunately, despite the U.S. Embassy hosting a festive event for the Fourth, these are not celebratory fireworks but the consequence of war from the Iranian Islamic regime proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

As of this writing, Israel has endured more than an hour of near-nonstop incoming barrages of rockets and exploding drones across the northern border, from the Haifa Bay area, Acco and Nahariya on the western coast, across the Galilee and Golan to the east, and south along the Sea of Galilee. As harrowing and angering as this is, what’s worse is knowing that at any moment Hezbollah could unleash an even more massive barrage, including thousands of precision GPS guided missiles, not just in the north but at all of Israel.

Having just returned home to Israel from a three and a half week speaking and book launch tour across a dozen states, I was up early managing the inevitable jet lag. Sipping coffee over the morning news, in addition to the weather forecast, an exceedingly hot day, Israelis received a war forecast as well. In 20 years, I don’t ever remember hearing reports like this. The report went something like this: “dangerous heat levels with high probability of incoming rockets.”

Why of all days such a report today? Yesterday, the IDF targeted Muhammad Nimah Nasser, one of Hezbollah’s senior commanders, in a pinpoint UAV strike on the vehicle in which he was traveling. Using the seasonal July 4 metaphor, some have said he was turned into barbeque. He was the third such high-level targeted attack against a senior Hezbollah leader, the precision of which demonstrating Israel’s intelligence and ability to track and target the highest-level terrorist leaders while avoiding harming non-combatants.

By comparison, the Iranian-backed terror group responded by firing hundreds of rockets and drones predominantly targeting civilian areas. While it was all happening, one friend reported that he was at home without power for half an hour already, and another that the sky in northern Israel is “thick with the roar of IDF aircraft, and it looks like it’s not ending any time soon.”

Throughout my speaking tour, one of the questions that came up repeatedly is when the war with Hezbollah will begin. First, I noted that the war already has begun. For months already Hezbollah has been firing dozens of rockets and drones, leaving as many as 100,000 Israelis internally displaced because it’s not safe to be in their communities. Israel has successfully targeted (what’s reported) more than 300 Hezbollah terrorist leaders, also demonstrating the ability to target the terrorists while limiting harm to civilians among whom the Lebanese terrorists have entrenched their weapons and terrorist infrastructure, just as Hamas has done throughout Gaza. What has not happened yet is an all-out Israeli airstrike against Hezbollah throughout Lebanon, or the expected response by the Islamic terrorists, to fire thousands of missiles, rockets and drones at all of Israel.

I noted that throughout my trip, as I woke up uneasily each day, wondering if news of that all-out war would have become a reality, and I’d need to cancel the rest of my itinerary to fly home. I joked I might have to do a crowdfunding campaign just to get a ticket as most airlines would cancel and even El Al will be pressed to maintain capacity. It’s an odd thing, but true, that even in the midst of war, there’s no place like home, with my family and nation. Even Dorothy knew she was returning to tornadoes.

Expecting the inevitability and unfortunate necessity of such a war, many Israelis have stocked up on things like water, batteries, non-perishable food, indoor activities for kids, non-electric landline phones and even individual solar panels to provide some electricity during what’s anticipated to be a widespread loss of power.

A dozen or so countries have called upon their citizens to leave Lebanon for their own safety. International airlines have reduced, altered, or canceled flights into Beirut.

On my way to Newark airport, I read that Lebanon’s foreign minister passed a message to Israel through Azerbaijan that they don’t want war. I chuckled in disbelief. If the Lebanese didn’t want a war, they should have prevented Hezbollah from hijacking their country and arming it to the teeth in violation of U.N. resolutions, and common sense. When there is an all-out war, it is Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the Lebanese people who are to blame.

Fortunately, most Americans realize this too. A recent Harvard Harris poll conducted between June 28-30 indicated that 67% of Americans support an Israeli response against Hezbollah if Hezbollah continues to launch rockets at Israel. A similar percent (62) recognize that Israel is making an effort to prevent harm to civilians in Gaza. 80% support Israel over Hamas (leading one to wonder about the morality of the 20%), and 82% believe Hamas must be removed from Gaza.

Not all Israelis are dual U.S. citizens like me and my family, but most of us widely support the U.S. and look at it as a critical ally, based on a common foundation of democracy and Judeo-Christian values. We celebrate America every day.

As Americans celebrate America today, I pray that for a moment they will realize the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air is not just a lovely rhyme Francis Scott Key wrote following a major battle of the War of 1812, but something we live with here in Israel, daily, as a battle the U.S. and Israel must engage and win in the wider war against Islamic terror and threats to our liberty.

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