An Israeli mother’s greatest fear

She was a young mother, but her face looked much older. Her eyes darted about constantly as she spoke about her life in Kibbutz Kfar Aza along the Israeli border with Gaza. The anxiety in her voice was so evident that I hung on to her every word.

She pointed to the concrete barriers that dotted the landscape: bomb shelters.

“Wherever you are, you must always keep track how far away they are,” she said, explaining that when the alarm sounds — as it often does — “you may only have seconds before the explosions start.”

Her name is Chen Abrahams, and of all the people I met during my recent trip to Israel, her story was the most memorable. For me, her simple desire to raise her son in safety will always be the face of what American policy in the Middle East should be.

Chen isn’t alone: many Israelis live in the constant fear that they are less than 60 seconds away from an incoming rocket. An average of three rockets a day rain down on Israel from Gaza, the 139 square mile strip which, since 2005, has been governed by Hamas.

In late June, months of relative calm were interrupted when the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired at least a half-dozen Iranian-made Grad missiles into the Israeli towns of Beersheba and Askelon in the dead of night. Only two of the six missiles were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system. This time, fortunately, there were no casualties from the other four.