I am the Israeli "emissary" for JEWISHcolorado, an organization working to build and sustain Jewish life in Colorado, Israel and around the world. Before coming to Denver, I lived on the Israeli border of Gaza, raising my three children under constant rocket attacks, for six years. Rather than raise my kids to hate those across the border, I taught them to seek solutions and not blame the majority of Palestinians who are not terrorists.
We lived in fear of sirens ringing at any moment, hoping we could get to shelter within 15 seconds to be safe. I looked at my children, knowing they would serve in the Israeli Army to protect our people, as I did.
But every time I hear of a Palestinian mother losing a child, or a daughter losing a father, I weep with them. This is not what Israelis wants for the Palestinian people or our own children. Most people in Israel and Gaza want a two-state solution, where we all can live as neighbors peacefully.
We must distinguish between Hamas and the Palestinian people. Hamas is a terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip since 2006 in a non-democratic way, building a robust rocket arsenal to terrorize Israel and using their own people as human shields, making them pay the ultimate price for their extremist political ideology. Instead of working to grow their economy, Hamas spent millions building terror tunnels to murder Israeli civilians. This money could have built schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
Since 2005, Hamas and other terrorist organizations have fired more than 13,000 rockets and mortars into Israel. Thirteen thousand. Recently, terrorists have made several attempts to attack our communities through underground tunnels.
Israel has the right and obligation to protect my family and community from attacks through terror tunnels and by rockets. Israeli soldiers were in Gaza detecting and destroying tunnels and rockets. Despite constant attacks on our people, Israel opened a field hospital to treat Palestinian injuries and coordinated the delivery of thousands of tons of medical supplies, aid, fuel and food to the people in Gaza.
Israel invested billions building shelters for civilians, developing the Iron Dome defense system with the help of the U.S., and providing catastrophic training for our communities.
Too many people look at the conflict and cast reasonable intentions in the hearts of Hamas' members. We cannot approach Hamas as an organization with reasonable intentions. They are terrorists. They have one goal - to destroy Israel through violence. This active minority does not want peace. They do not want to co-exist or see a two-state solution. They want Israel to be destroyed.
I am sorry for the loss of so many innocent civilians. It is truly devastating. But Israel must protect itself. No other country would allow a constant barrage of missiles to interrupt daily life and cause psychological turmoil, injury and death.
Until moving to Denver in 2011, I considered the daily threat of a missile attack by Hamas 'normal.' Living under constant fear of rocket fire is not normal. This is no way to live, and it has gone on far too long. Enough is enough.
Israel's goals are to demilitarize Hamas, neutralize the terrorist tunnels, and ensure the people of Israel are safe. We look forward to a day when a negotiated, two-state solution becomes a reality, but we cannot move forward with achieving peace until Hamas ceases its attacks.
We must protect our people and our country. We must encourage Gaza's silent majority to lead, and push for a solution that allows us to live peacefully side-by-side. Our children deserve that better future.