BOSTON — Imagine my surprise when Hamas managed to fire numerous Syrian-made M302 rockets from the Gaza Strip toward northern Israel recently.
Well, actually, it was not such a surprise.
Remember last March when a ship called the "Klos-C" hauled into Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat? It was promptly intercepted but, as we suspected, it was a harbinger of things to come; the hold of that ship contained dozens of M302 rockets provided by Iran.
A recent UN Security Council report confirms that Iran was responsible for the shipment of these weapons. The document said the war materiel found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran's obligations under Security Council embargoes from 2007.
Hamas apparently has dozens of rockets, and is clearly eager to show them off. For years, Tehran has been shipping rockets and other weapons to its proxy in Gaza, along with providing massive terrorist training and funding; and Israeli civilians have more than once had to bear the consequences.
The list of apprehended Iranian ship deliveries is long and getting longer: Karine A, the Victoria, the MV Francop, to name a few. Who knows how many caches of arms made it through undetected.
Rockets smuggled to Hamas by Tehran and fired toward Israel hit everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians that live in our country. Iran could not care less.
Which got me thinking: what differentiates states? At the most basic level, the current round of Hamas violence provides the answer: the world can roughly be divided among states that work tirelessly for betterment, those in the middle, and those bent on destruction.
On the day Israel announced the start of a reserve soldier mobilization to deal with the endless barrage of rockets, readers learned that Israel had once again made its mark in bettering the lives of the residents of the US.
ReWalk, a prosthetic technology developed in Israel by Marlborough-based Argo Medical Technologies Inc., received FDA approval and now can be widely available to those in need. American rehabilitation hospitals have been using this technology for quite some time.
There's the Israel-Cambridge firm CliniWorks, which harnesses big-data analytics to improve both the delivery of health care services and patient outcomes. On the very same day, CliniWorks announced it had formed an alliance with the drug giant Pfizer Inc. to advance their work with health care providers.
Several days ago, I read a prominent journalist's impressions of the escalating tensions, summed up into one tagline: "Start-up nation vs. Rocket nation". Indeed, as Hamas made the lives of Israeli civilians unbearable and we acted on our right to self-defense, it quickly became clear that our efforts toward betterment exist on the battlefield as well: from the "Red Alert" app, which notifies users when incoming rockets are overhead, to Iron Dome.
Capable of intercepting and destroying short-range rockets, and mortar and artillery shells, Iron Dome is a particular source of pride for the US-Israel partnership. It saves countless Israeli lives, and also increasingly provides for significant co-production opportunities for US industry - meaning more jobs for Americans.
When I look at all these bilateral partnerships - ReWalk, CliniWorks, Iron Dome - I see one very visible connecting thread: resources that go into improving lives. That's why the US and Israel belong to the "betterment" category of states.
And what about Iran? Well, at the expense of its own people's betterment, it prefers to channel resources to groups and weapons of destruction: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq. Wherever Iran can be found, destruction can be found.
As Hamas terrorists desperately made their way recently from the sea in an attempt to penetrate nearby kibbutz Zikkim and take hostages, I could not help but wonder whether they ever stopped to think that destruction will always lose to betterment.
We will never know. For as they trudged through the sand en route to their murderous goal, a strong Israeli force abruptly ended their mission.
Those of us who are dedicated to the betterment of mankind, rather than its destruction, have nothing to be ashamed of. Israel, protecting the lives of its civilians, certainly does not.
Yehuda Yaakov is Israel's consul general to New England.