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Brown: Diary of Operation Black Belt

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Rockets are fired from Gaza towards Israel, following the targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Baha Abu Al-Atta in an Israeli strike, on Nov. 12. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Tuesday, Nov. 12, a.m.: Again. A bit tedious. This business of war. Woke up around 6 a.m. to a siren. Incoming. Oh well. Time to get up anyway. Just a few hours earlier. Baha Abu al-Ata (say that three times fast) was assassinated in a targeted killing by the IDF. A top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander in Gaza.

Then a text message from the school. Cancelled. My daughter is happy. Twenty minutes later, her friends arrive for an impromptu breakfast. They talked missiles and sirens. Where is the giggling? The talk of boys. Of parties. OK, there was also that. Teenagers in the home-front.

Missiles falling in Tel Aviv. Several months. An exception. Now. The norm. To make matters worse, my wife called her mom who lives near Tel Aviv. Bringing her here until the missiles stop. Which can be a long time. Missiles be damned. Now that made my day.

Wednesday, Nov. 12, p.m.: Two hundred missiles slammed into Israel. Remarkably very little damage. Did the PIJ ever hear of GPS? Shhhh. Don’t tell them.

The enemy – Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Not Hamas. What’s the difference? Both radical Islamic parties. Both fire missiles at Israel. Both want to destroy Israel. But this time it’s the PIJ. Apparently differences are more than nuance. So says our pundits.

Thursday, Nov. 14, p.m.: A quite night. But early morning brought more missiles. Raining on the south. By late afternoon another 100 missiles fired toward us. Yikes! Told to brace for several days of fighting. Most missiles fell around the Gaza periphery. But one reached as far as our neighbourhood in Rehovot. My daughter was home alone at the time. She had difficulty shutting the fortified window in our protective room. The new screen recently installed, the culprit. By the time she shut it. Boom! The missile shot from the sky by our trusty Iron Dome interceptor. Need to fix the screen.

PIJ not ready for a ceasefire. Acting as if they own this game. Maybe they do. Where is our might? Our deterrence? Our “make my day” attitude? Must end this constant threat. End their ability to fire indiscriminately and non-stop at Israel. It’s not fair. “Fair.” Like that’s a concept in war.

My big question. Rhetorically. But looking for answers. How did Gaza develop so many darn missiles? Shouldn’t we have stopped this stockpiling long ago? Same mistake in Lebanon. Where Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles aimed at my home. Double yikes!

Friday, Nov. 15, a.m.: The fighting has a name. Operation Black Belt. Ceasefire agreement reached. Not surprisingly. The ink not yet dry. More missiles fired into Israel. Just wondering. When ceasefire agreements signed. Does the PIJ – not Hamas, I remind you – and Israel sit around a table. Sign a document. Exchange pens. Take a few selfies. OK, silly thought. But if they did. Might be a way to reduce animosity. They can even share a drink at an “after event.”

Friday, Nov. 15, p.m.: How does Operation Black Belt impact Israel’s political woes? Still a country without a functioning government. And Gaza has a functioning government? Rhetorical question I couldn’t refuse to ask.

Over 400 missiles fired into Israel since Tuesday. Fifty-eight Israeli civilians injured but none seriously (I think, I hope). Not sure our number of retaliatory attacks but reportedly significant. And our ability to pinpoint attacks is amazing. Baha Abu al-Ata (and his wife) taken out while sleeping in his apartment. No other deaths or damage. Quite amazing.

Saturday, Nov. 16, a.m.: My morning news feed. More missiles launched by PIJ. Now isn’t that lovely. Difficult to distinguish the morning thunderstorm – finally raining – from the sounds of missiles and anti-missiles clashing overhead. A boom is boom is a boom.

Sunday, Nov. 17, p.m.: Operation Black Belt basically over. As much as I can tell. Missile attacks reduced to a trickle and then basically stopped. Very tenuous quite. Lots of muscle flexing. Both sides claim victory. The Israeli narrative more reliable. Our new defence minister – Naftali Bennett – warns that those who attack us in the day will not sleep at night. And the proverbial beat goes on.


Bruce Brown is a Canadian-Israeli who made aliyah 30 years ago.

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