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Dana was just tired. After tough midterms at Sapir College and moonlighting as a waitress, the 22-year-old returned home exhausted. She collapsed on the veranda couch and enjoyed the cool night air. But that night — as fate had it — the air raid siren didn’t work. So when the Qassam rocket landed, Dana didn’t have time to run. It wasn’t the impact that killed her. It was the shrapnel, the scrap metal and the rusty nails.

Dana is only one of many victims that the 12,000 rockets that have bombarded Israel’s south for the last 12 years. She was punished for the crime of living a normal life.

During the Second Intifada in 2001, Gazan terrorists started launching rockets into sovereign Israel and have not stopped until now. These missiles are deliberately aimed at civilian areas — homes, schools or factories — and are often launched during rush hour to kill commuting civilians and schoolchildren most efficiently.

In 2005, many Israelis hoped the rocket fire would end when Israel withdrew every Israeli civilian and soldier from Gaza in an unprecedented gesture of peace. These hopes were turned into nightmares. Instead of diminishing rocket fire, the bombardment intensified. Despite Operation Cast Lead in late 2008, intended to end the attacks, rockets continued to terrorize Israel.

Recently, the situation has escalated further: Since Monday, more than 400 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, including one that tragically killed three Israelis in Kiryat Malachi and one that struck in the vicinity of Tel Aviv. In response, the Israeli Air Force assassinated terrorist leader Ahmed Jabari, the Osama bin Laden of Hamas — a wicked mastermind with innocent blood on his hand. This precision strike shows that, in sharp contradistinction to Hamas targeting civilians, the only thing Israel intentionally rains on civilians are leaflets warning civilians to flee from the impending attack. The strike also initiated Pillar of Defense, a military operation intended to finally end the endless barrage of rockets that terrorize one million Israelis.

I can’t understand that number — 12,000. I try to imagine, even for a second, growing up in a bomb shelter, celebrating the birthdays of childhood friends who are long gone or getting days off from school not because of a hurricane miles away, but for rockets seconds away. I try to imagine, but I cannot.

I’m not alone in my inability to understand Sderot’s surrealistic story. Penn For Palestine’s vigil this morning on College Green certainly belies that they are either ignorant or willfully blind to Israel’s suffering and trauma over last decade. As if with blinders, they focus only on recent loss of life that, undoubtedly tragic, remains unintentional, ignoring the context of thousands upon thousand of rockets that rained upon Israel.

But I would ask only one question: how many? How many more rockets are need to wreak havoc on residential neighborhoods until a response is merited? If 12,000 isn’t enough, then where is the red line?

But the truth is, there is no number, there is no red line. No matter how much provocation, how many missiles or broken windows or shattered lives — Israel is never “granted” the right of self-defense. And when Israel finally dares to defend itself, has the pure chutzpa to say that enough is enough, that 12,000 rockets and dozens of casualties and millions in shelters are too many — well, then suddenly the world finally awakes in not-so-righteous anger.

I still cannot understand this situation. I cannot understand how life goes on in Sderot at all. I cannot understand the bravery it takes to simply go to work. I cannot understand how Israel has tarried this long but still calls itself a responsible government.

More than anything, I cannot understand how anyone dares slander Pillar of Defense, Israel’s mission to end the rockets once and for all. What would any other country do? What would you want your government to do?

But I do understand one thing — the losses behind the statistics are real. The childhoods ruined will not come back, the arms and legs dismembered will not regrow and the trauma felt will not disappear. Dana will not return to life.

Whatever that magical number is, 12,000 rockets are far too many.

Shlomo Klapper is a College and Wharton sophomore. His email address is

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