Friday, March 4, 2011

Report from Netanya: Jan Gaines at the Gaza Border

Dear Friends,

As I open my eyes to another glorious and tranquil spring day in Israel, I am just now absorbing the impact of a trip I was on yesterday to the Gaza border.

The trip was one of a regular bi-monthly visit to army installations all over Israel. Sponsored by the Friends of the IDF, these trips are always visits to inaugurate a new clubhouse for our soldier kids to relax in right on their base. But beyond that purpose, they are always an eye opener for those of us, mostly Anglo grandparents, who worry about our collective "kids" in the IDF. And for me, yesterday's trip was the reason I could wake up peacefully on another tranquil morning in Netanya.

Just this week we read about an amazing new defensive missile called "Trophy" which can deflect and destroy an anti-tank missile aimed at our tanks on the border. The missile doesn't even need human action to launch it. The other day the Palestinians sent their anti-tank missile across the border in an accurate trajectory and the Trophy sensed it and destroyed it in mid-air almost without the crew being aware of it!!!! Our visit yesterday to the Gaza border confirmed why Israel can maintain its defensive edge - - - - -not just because of the Trophy, but because our defensive capabilities along the border are awesome.

An impressive Colonel explained to us that there are 3 kinds of tunnels used by Hamas in the border area. First, the tunnels you read about which are used for smuggling everything from missiles to cocaine to toilet paper (?) Now that the border has been relaxed by Israel so that non-military supplies can come in, I question the toilet paper. But you get the idea. This is where all the heavy military stuff is coming in.

The second kind of tunnel is the house to house kind, used extensively in Operation Cast Lead 2 years ago. This is the kind that allows fighters to exit a house they've been firing from, go through the tunnel to several houses away and escape, while trying to induce the Israelis to fire on the first house in order to sustain civilian casualties.

The 3rd kind of tunnel is the one that worries the IDF the most, said the Colonel. This is the kind dug UNDER the border fence, enabling terrorists to enter Israel to plant roadside bombs or to try to capture Israeli soldiers.

The fence itself is electrified with an alarm wire strung across. In addition, there are many all-seeing eyes, mostly female ones, watching the border at all times. There is the all seeing balloon one sees all the time in the skies. There are huge satellite dishes which also watch every movement along the border. There is a whole battalion assigned jub to the Gaza border, just watching and watching and sensing. And alot of mostly young women IDF soldiers who sit at cameras and monitor everything that moves.

There isn't a day that passes without some attempt by terrorists to fire a missile, lay a mine, shoot a mortar across the border. Thank goodness most of us don't know about these attempts. And Hamas is not totally in control, we were told. There are many more extremist offshoot which handle missiles without asking permission. Because Hamas is now the government, they have to act more responsibly, so as not to incur heavy retaliation. This doesn't mean they have stopped arming and shooting. It does mean that they do not have 100% control over their own territory. It also means that Gaza is becoming more, not less, radicalized.

But now you know why I woke up this morning feeling tranquil. No matter how many missiles they shoot, the IDF is ready to stop most of them. It's true that some landed in Beersheva last week, but no one was hurt. It doesn't mean Hamas won't occasionally try to hit Ashkelon or Netivot, or Sderot. But there are herculean efforts down there on the border to stop them, and if retaliation is necessary, the air force knows exactly where the missiles came from.

And that is why I can look forward this morning to a tranquil brunch with friends, to a lovely Shabbat dinner tonight with Ilan & Karen and Nina, etc., and tomorrow a quiet Shabbat at Beit Israel, followed by a picnic somewhere. The temps are about 70 degrees, the sun is shining and all's well with my world.

Shabbat Shalom, Jan

No comments: