The flare-up of hostilities between Israel and Palestine has given rise to a response I struggled with during the last Gaza war of 2014 – that the asymmetry of capability equates to an asymmetry of suffering.
Thanks to Israel’s sophisticated military and its Iron Dome defence system that takes out short-range rockets, its casualties are significantly fewer than those in Gaza. For many this means any response by Israel to the barrage of rockets targeted at civilian populations is unwarranted.
I spent four years living in Israel as the wife of the then Australian ambassador, and now MP for Wentworth, Dave Sharma. Dave had raised the idea of a posting to Israel early in our marriage but like many a good husband broke the news that he had been offered the ambassadorship on a late-night call from Africa. My response was as you would expect – there is no way I am moving to a place like that with young kids. But less than 12 months later, I found myself stepping off a flight with my three daughters, aged 6, 4 and five weeks.
Less than 12 months later we witnessed tensions across the country after the kidnap and murder of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank spilt over into a full-blown conflict with Hamas.
The ambassador’s residence is based in Herzliya, a seaside suburb to the north of Tel Aviv. Its population is largely expatriate – a big chunk of the diplomatic community, colourful Russian expats (some with backgrounds that seemed a little shady) and increasingly French Jews escaping uncertainty. In Herzliya we had 90 seconds to get to our bomb shelter.