Last year, the American Jewish community was up in arms, lobbying government and communal leaders to help Sderot, the Israeli city that had been the target of thousands of rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
In December, the Israeli government finally said enough and launched a ground offensive against Hamas. As was the case during the Second Lebanon War, the army stopped short of wiping out the opposing terrorist organization but inflicted heavy damage. Since the end of Operation Cast Lead only a handful of rockets have landed in Israel.
The people of Sderot, though, are still on edge, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Two to three months with little rocket fire is not new for them. They have seen these lulls before and know that they are a strategic choice for Hamas rather than a new devotion to peace.
Although the Israel Defense Forces did not succeed in destroying Hamas, it did restore some deterrence. Like Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah after the Second Lebanon War, Hamas was surprised by the heaviness of the Israeli response.
That doesn’t mean that Hamas will not try again. The media have consistently reported since Cast Lead that smuggling across the Egyptian border continues and Hamas is stockpiling weapons. This is why we, the American Jewish community, cannot accept the quiet.
We must continue shouting to our elected leaders to pressure the Palestinians to halt all forms of violence and accept peace.
We should not just lobby our government, though. The people of Sderot are still in need. Only now is the Israeli government beginning to pay for residents to build safe rooms in their homes, while many public buildings remain unprotected. Respite and counseling programs through organizations such as the Jewish Agency have been cut because of dwindling donations.
The people of Sderot need more than just steel-enforced roofs. One program that our own community has supported created quiet rooms in schools for children to deal with their stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common, and many people need psychological services.
The people of Sderot need our support, financial and otherwise.