Israel is more than rocket attacks and bombs.
There is more to experience in this tiny yet incredible country than code red sirens and shelters.
The endless scenes on the internet and television of tanks and soldiers tell part of our story. It is an identity that we have inevitably become intertwined with, after fighting the past 66 years for our survival.
Yet after nine years of calling Israel my home, I can tell you that my people are more than the jihad targets and defenders of our land that we are currently being made out to be.
My country is more than a political topic. My people are more than a statistic. And although we are known exclusively as this to many people, we are more than just a nation that is spoken about in the Bible.
The population of Israel is almost 8 million, but we are even more than that.
We are people. We are individuals. We are children, parents, and elderly.
Behind the images of tanks and soldiers lined up at the Gaza border that you see on your television screens are my brothers and sisters in bomb shelters singing songs of hope and peace.
"Bring peace upon us already; to us and to everyone. Peace! For us and the world, that is what we want, peace."
This is one of the first songs that our children learn at school, and one that accompanies them throughout life.
Perhaps that is why I am utterly shocked when I see the way that Israel is portrayed by the international media. In too many news reports, half the story is completely missing - and that missing part is the reality that Israel faces.
Israel is in a fight for her survival every minute of every day. That is not just a cliché -- it is a fact.
With hopes for peace, Israel has made difficult decisions and painful concessions, from enacting building freezes to releasing thousands of convicted terrorists. We have offered our Palestinian neighbors their own independent state numerous times, yet each offer is denied and the terror continues.
In the past two weeks over 2000 rockets were launched at Israel. After calling for quiet and numerous unsuccessful attempts at getting Hamas to stop the fire, Israel had no choice but to respond.
What would America do if most of its citizens were force to live in bomb shelters, and terrorists said publicly that they refused to stop firing rockets? How would America respond if there was a terror attack on her soil nearly every day?
The people of Israel experience a "code red" siren on an average of every four minutes. Can you imagine a fire drill happening at work countless times a day -- yet instead of a fire drill you knew the siren was warning of an incoming rocket, and you had between 15 and 60 seconds to seek shelter? Would you want your government to respond and defend your right to live?
Israel has accepted three cease-fire agreements - brokered, in some cases, by Arab states -- yet Hamas has bluntly refused to accept them. In Israel, we say that the Middle East definition of "ceasefire" is that Israel ceases, Hamas fires.
Israel is unique and a minority in the tumultuous Middle East. Israel cherishes life; not only the life of Israelis and Jews, but the life of our enemies as well. Yet we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
We are fighting an enemy that sanctifies a martyr's death. Israel has video footage of terrorists firing rockets from playgrounds, hospitals, and schools. We have confirmed that Hamas terrorists are storing their weapons in UN safe houses and traveling throughout the Gaza Strip in ambulances to avoid being targeted. Israel's enemies are shooting at us from within crowds of children and using civilian buildings as missile launching sites. These are facts, backed up by video footage and Hamas leadership.
How would your government act in a war of this nature? How would your army respond? How would you want them to respond, knowing that you and your children were in imminent danger?
Israel is doing everything it can to protect her citizens; Hamas is doing everything it can to harm its citizens. Because when it comes down to it, the international arena sees this conflict as a war of numbers. The media seems to present the conflict as "May the side with the highest casualty rate win!" But that doesn't identify right from wrong or distinguish terrorism from self-defense.
Israel uses her technology and weapons to protect her citizens, while Hamas uses Palestinian citizens to protect its weapons and technology. Israel builds bomb shelters to keep the children safe, and Hamas builds tunnels underneath kindergartens and hospitals to keep terrorists safe.
On Israel's side of the border we are unified in our fight for survival. Israeli Arabs and Jews huddle together during code red sirens, because rockets don't discriminate. People in the north of Israel are opening up their homes to families from the war-torn south, because we are all in this together.
A number of Jews and Muslims are strengthening dialogue and partnership, because ultimately peace will come from the people.
The Israeli army is not fighting the Palestinian people, but rather the terrorists who are holding the Palestinian citizens hostage to their fundamental goal of wiping the Jewish state off the map.
Israel evacuated all Jews from Gaza in hopes for peace, but all we got was terror. For the past seven years Sderot -- one of Israel's cities that border Gaza -- has been absorbing hundreds of rocket attacks by terrorists. Now, no city in Israel is safe.
The terrorists themselves say that once they've destroyed Israel, they will go on to take over Europe and America. Christians around the world have been standing with Israel as we fight radical Islamist terrorists on the border of our homeland. They understand that Israel is fighting for the same Judeo-Christian values that Americans and democratic nations around the world hold dear. We are keeping the free world safer by fighting the terrorists on our turf.
I think that peace will come when we start placing blame and pressure where it is deserved. Indeed, the people of Gaza deserve to live in freedom, dignity and peace. The popular slogan, "Free Gaza!" -- yelled at countless pro-Palestinian rallies -- is not complete. What should be said is "Free Gaza -- from Hamas!"