To look at southern Israel today, you wouldn’t know that just a few days ago it was a war zone. Between Friday and Monday, terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip launched more than 200 rockets at the region. Since a ceasefire was called several days ago, relative quiet has settled in most of the area, and the number of rockets has dropped sharply (though not ceased entirely). Some schools have reopened, and some people have gone back to their daily routines. While scores of Israelis were injured in the attacks, thankfully — perhaps providentially — none were killed.

Yet it was difficult to find reports on these recent events in the U.S. media; it seems that, for many outlets, the firing of terrorist rockets at Israeli civilians simply isn’t a story. As usual, where stories did appear they positioned Israel’s defensive efforts as aggression. Reports trumpeted the fact that, by some accounts, more than 20 Palestinian terrorists were killed during IDF strikes in Gaza, while Israelis were “merely” injured.

Of course, it is Palestinian terrorists who disregard all rules of war and common decency by launching unprovoked attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Under such circumstances, it is Israel’s right — indeed, her solemn obligation — to protect her citizens. Certainly, the world should be able to understand that. And yet, many do not.

The low number of Israeli casualties reflects the great efforts Israel makes to protect her people. During the recent round of attacks, the newly deployed Iron Dome missile defense system shot down about 90 percent of the rockets it targeted. The extensive network of bomb shelters the Israeli government has created (many funded by The Fellowship), has saved countless Israeli lives. This is in stark contrast to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, who cynically manipulate the media by putting their own people in harm’s way.

It is a bitter irony that the world places blame for the Palestinians’ plight on Israel, the one country in the Middle East that has consistently shown it values life and is committed to protecting the innocent and attending to the wounds of all casualties — both Israeli and Palestinian. The conflict this past weekend is but one skirmish in a greater war. But it reveals the profound difference between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists, between a nation that nurtures a culture of life, and a group that revels in death. Recognizing the true nature of Israel’s foes, you can understand why Israel must defend herself — and why she depends on friends like you to stand with her.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein