The majority of Israeli citizens overwhelmingly agree with such emotions. People's patience, especially in the south, seems to have run out long ago; the Netanyahu government is now responding to popular sentiment. Re-establishing deterrence is the name of the game: The plan since the beginning of the war is to hit Hamas and the other Gaza-based militant groups hard -- hard enough so that their military capability is eroded, hard enough so that they think twice before launching rockets in future.
"In this jungle [the Middle East] there's no shortage of bad people," the Haaretz daily quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying. "You can't fight against such people according to the rules of a nunnery."
It remains to be seen what fighting yet another war in the Gaza Strip according to such rules can accomplish. But the Israeli government is about to try, and Israelis of all political stripes remain overwhelmingly in favor. Opposition politicians, who up to a few days ago were excoriating Netanyahu as "dangerous for Israel," are now rushing to television and radio studios, voicing complete support for the government. It was a surreal sight to see Shaul Mofaz, the leader of the opposition Kadima party, lauding Netanyahu on television as a bus with his campaign ad drove by my Tel Aviv flat: "Bibi will get us into trouble," it read, juxtaposed with an image of a giant orange mushroom cloud.
It wouldn't be cynical to view Israel's military offensive as a boon for Netanyahu's and Barak's political fortunes; an election campaign previously dominated by social and economic issues has now been wholly taken over by security concerns. The Israeli public, however, doesn't seem to mind -- they just want the rockets to stop.
It was with a sly bemusement, bordering on schadenfreude, that the customers of the kiosk in Ashdod watched the incoming reports of missiles over Tel Aviv. In their minds, the government failed to take concrete action on their behalf for years to stop the rockets raining down from Gaza. "Let [the rockets] fall," one young man said, as he watched images of Tel Avivis running for cover. "They should wake up." "It shouldn't hit anywhere," an older gentleman retorted softly, as he took a drag from his cigarette.
A third man, the owner of the kiosk, summed up the current national mood: "Today it's here [in the south], then Tel Aviv, and tomorrow it'll come from the north [i.e. Lebanon]. It's the whole country."
On Nov. 16, two more rockets were fired at Tel Aviv. Later in the day, air-raid sirens blared in Jerusalem, and a rocket fell just to the south of Israel's capital. All the while, intense rocket barrages have continued in Israel's south. Overhead, the sound of fighter jets zooming toward Gaza mix with the thuds of Iron Dome intercepts. Army reserve units are steadily being called up -- the government is currently seeking approval to call 75,000 reservists into action -- in anticipation of a lengthier, bloodier ground campaign. Military officers appear in uniform on television, reminding the Israeli home front to dutifully follow instructions and to take cover in bomb shelters and safe rooms the second they hear an air-raid siren. (The only three Israeli casualties so far were due, tragically, to people not following these instructions.)
The government is urging people to follow the quintessentially Israeli idea of an "emergency routine": Remain alert, minimize outdoor activities (especially in the south), but go on with daily life. Like the little boy with the sign at the basketball game, Israel has no intention of bowing down to terrorism. Noble as this idea may be, it's unclear that once the current war ends, Israel will be any nearer to being rid of terrorism. The best Israelis are hoping for, at present, is just a little more quiet.