This past weekend, a bar mitzva boy in Beersheba received a rude welcome to adulthood. Sometime after midnight on Friday evening, just hours before the young man was due to ascend the podium to read from the Torah, an air-raid siren sounded.
"Tzeva Adom" (the equivalent of "Code Red"), it declared, signaling that Palestinian terrorists had launched projectiles from Gaza toward southern Israel.
My twin sons, who were attending the celebratory weekend, were fast asleep along with the rest of the guests. A youth ran into their room and attempted to rouse them, shouting that an attack was on its way.
Thinking it was just a prank, they did what teens around the world are so adept at doing: They rolled over and went back to sleep.
Moments later, the mother of the bar mitzva boy burst in and told everyone to get to the hotel's protected area forthwith.
One of my sons did just that, while the other just kept on snoozing – sleeping through his first rocket strike. Mazal tov! But this is no laughing matter. From Beersheba all the way up to Gedera, hundreds of thousands of Israelis were forced to seek shelter as Palestinian terrorists fired more than 120 rockets and mortar rounds in a 48-hour period, indiscriminately targeting civilians.
The weekend bombardment followed Thursday's deliberate attack on an Israeli school bus, when Palestinians launched an anti-tank missile at the vehicle, critically wounding a 16-year-old boy.
All told, since January 1, terrorists in Gaza have fired 269 rockets, mortars and shells at Jewish towns and villages in the South. That comes out to nearly three projectiles per day, every day, since the start of 2011.
This is simply insufferable, and it is time for Israel to take all necessary measures to stop it.
THE PRIMARY goal of the terrorists is to murder and maim innocent Israelis, and to sow fear and disarray among the public. We need to take the fight to them and stop allowing the terrorists to treat the residents of the Negev as targets in their own private shooting gallery.
As my kids recounted the harrowing Shabbat incident to me, I could not help but think of how successive premiers have not lived up to the primary responsibility of any government – to provide for the safety and security of its citizens.
Just imagine how the siren must have cast a shadow over the bar mitzva, and how it will be forever etched in the memory of the young boy, whose rite of passage was disrupted by some cruel terrorists bent on wreaking havoc. Is this any way for a nation to live? Unfortunately, for residents of the South, the disruption of daily life has become all too familiar. Even our dovish President Shimon Peres said that "the Gaza Strip has turned into a terrorist zone."
If that is the case, then why on earth do we allow it to continue? Indeed, perhaps Israel's gravest error is that we have been treating the intolerable as if it were tolerable, carrying on as though it were perfectly normal for our neighbors to be attacking us at will.
On Sunday, the government reportedly agreed to a cease-fire with the Hamas leadership in Gaza. But the question is: to what end? We cease, while they gear up to continue firing.
A couple of IDF air strikes and some tough words from the premier just won't do. Taking out a handful of the bad guys is not a long-term solution.
Israel must end this charade. The Jewish state needs to reassert control and topple the Hamas terrorist regime once and for all. It's time to correct the strategic mistake of withdrawing from Gaza, which allowed the area to become a launching pad for terror.
The residents of the entire country deserve some peace and quiet, which can only come once our foes are truly vanquished.
Sure, an Israeli move into Gaza would have far-reaching political repercussions, and there is no doubt that it would be messy and complicated. But we have no choice. Tranquility and calm must be restored to the Negev, and the lives of Israel's citizens must take priority over any other concerns.
Let's stop tolerating the intolerable and dismantle the Hamas government, so that southern residents need no longer scurry to bomb shelters on a regular basis.
For far too long, our leadership has been asleep at the wheel. They need to wake up and take action, because that is what the situation demands.