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“My family in Israel has bomb shelters. They are, actually, safe. In Gaza, there is no such thing as “safe.” Please, ask your friends to join me in asking President Obama to make aid to Israel contingent on not using it to target civilians.”

Dear Supporter,

I wear many hats. I’m a dad, a videographer, a Jewish Israeli, a veteran. But I’m telling you my story, and asking you to forward this email and ask your friends to sign this letter to President Obama about US military aid to Israel, as a human being, as a citizen of the world, and as someone who deeply cares about the people in Israel and Gaza.

My wife, kids and I live just on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel, where life during the past weeks for the most part carried on as normal. 

There were four sirens in the eight days of the Israeli operation, which means we had to move into a room in the house that has reinforced concrete walls. In our case, we went down to our apartment building’s bomb shelter for 10 minutes—as far as I know every apartment building in Israel has one. Fortunately, the kids took it well and were not scared.

In the south close to the border with Gaza where I’ve been working, life is much, much different.  People who could do so temporarily moved northward and stayed with family and friends out of rocket and mortar range.

Being outdoors when the siren goes off in the south is quite scary. Most rockets are relatively small, up to 12 pounds of explosives, and cannot bring down a building. But in the open space they splatter lots of metal fragments.

The bigger long distance rockets that were fired at lower intervals were the "Fajar" Rockets that carry 90 lbs of explosives. They cannot bring down a building but can destroy an apartment and killed 3 people in an apartment building. People in bomb shelters are considered to be safe.

And of course, the Iron Dome defense system reportedly destroyed 85% of rockets headed towards Israeli populated areas.

Still, in the south, the sirens went off many times a day and there was no school and no work because parents naturally wanted to be near their kids.

In contrast, in Gaza, the bombs dropped by the Israeli military ranged from 500 to 1,000 pounds, and in the past, also 2,000 pounds.  Ten or 20 times more powerful than those which they have sent our way.

When I’d go to our bomb shelter with my family, I would think of families like mine in Gaza. They had no sirens, no Iron Dome defense, no shelters, and because they are essentially trapped, nowhere to go.

But mostly, I thought about how terrified I'd be during the bombings.

There is no safe place to go in Gaza.

It wouldn’t matter if buildings had shelters since the Israeli bombs often flatten the building they hit. There's literally nothing left.  

I want you to ask your friends to sign this letter to President Obama asking him to make aid to Israel contingent on not using it to target civilians because there is no military solution. Not for Palestinians. Not for us Israelis.

To reach a true peace for all of us, Israeli and Palestinian, our governments must choose diplomacy over more bombing. The Israeli government must end its terrible siege of the Palestinians.

And the US must stop sending my government weapons they know will be used to violate the law and harm civilians.

I am happy we've reached a cease-fire and I hope this will lead to negotiations with the Hamas government. I remind myself that the British in pre-state Israel also considered the Israeli political groups terrorist entities.

With hopes for a fair and lasting peace for both of our peoples,

Amir Terkel

P.S. This open letter to Obama first had a 25,000 signature goal, and you exceeded it. Then it had a 36,000 goal and you exceeded it. Let's see if we can reach 50,000.

P.S. I’ve attached pictures I’ve taken in the south over the last few days. Happily and luckily no one was hurt in these locations (they were all indoors) but you can see how scary it must have been.

There are also photos from Gaza (that I did not take obviously) for a sense of scale and proportion.