JERUSALEM -- The difference between wealthy and poor when you're fighting in the Middle East? The former has the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system; the latter is near defenseless.
Sirens in Gaza send Palestinians scrambling for cover every day, yet at least 185 have died to date -- for example, cousins Mohammed Baker (age 9), Ahed Baker (10), Zakaria Baker (10), and Mohammed Baker (11), killed late Wednesday afternoon. They were fishermen's kids mistaken as "fleeing fighters," an Israel Defense Forces official told Haaretz newspaper following the two IDF airstrikes on a Gazan beach. The first explosion sent the children sprinting toward a hotel; the second targeted them.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, where the Iron Dome has received $720 million in American money since 2011 and, according to Foreign Policy magazine, will likely draw another $350 million in 2015, some Orthodox Jews dance in the streets. Sirens are celebrated. It's a peculiar reaction to the shrill warning of rockets arriving from Gaza.
The video above shows them dancing earlier this week across from UN offices in Jerusalem along Route 60 (aka Way of the Patriarchs), a north-south thoroughfare connecting Israel and Palestine and stretching from Beersheba to Nazareth. The dance was followed by two thunderous explosions. Overhead. The Iron Dome works. Israeli peacemaker Rami Elhanan tells me that Orthodox Jews dance when faced with a threat to show the strength of their belief that God will protect them.
Of course, if Gazans had the Iron Dome, they might also dance.
Yesterday Hamas urged (ordered?) Palestinians living on its borders to remain in their homes in defiance of Israel's warning to evacuate ahead of its imminent ground attack, announced just moments ago. The Hamas directive elicited an absurd comment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who implied that combat here occurs on an even playing field -- as if hundreds of millions of American tax dollars (not to mention U.S. $3 billion or so in annual aid) and an Iron Dome are equally available to both sides.
"We are using missile defense to protect our civilians," Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday, the same day the four Gazan cousins died, "and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles."
Yes, Hamas, poor choice.