NESS ZIONA, Israel — The sirens wailed about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday in this orderly suburb south of Tel Aviv. Two rockets were whizzing here from Gaza.
They were intercepted high above the houses by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, but a large chunk from one crashed on Weizmann Street, the main, tree-lined artery of Ness Ziona, landing between cars in the morning rush-hour.
As Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups have extended the reach of their rocket fire during this round of fighting, with one Syrian-made rocket striking Hadera, a city more than 70 miles north of Gaza, late Tuesday, according to the Israeli military, Tel Aviv and its populous suburbs are now easily within the 30 to 50 mile range. As in the south of the country, the practice of dropping everything and running for shelter when the sirens wail is becoming routine here.
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Many residents of the Tel Aviv metropolis, long perceived by Israelis who live in edgier peripheral areas as a bourgeois bubble disconnected from their reality, are now pushing for a decisive military blow against Hamas in Gaza, adding to the pressure on the government as it weighs the possibility of a ground invasion.
“There’s a feeling of war,” said Avi Mashiach, 40, a clerk in Ness Ziona’s City Hall. “Israelis want to see the people of Gaza surrender. We should send in more aircraft, tanks, and commandos. This is the time to finish Hamas, to destroy them.”
Roi Eliahu, 39, was at the shopping mall trying to amuse his two young children with miniature airplane rides after he and his wife decided it was not safe to send them to their summer day camp. “We are willing to put up with even a year of sirens as long as they are doing what needs to be done,” he said of the government and the military. “If the army wanted to, it could dismantle Hamas in five hours and flatten Gaza.”
There was little sympathy expressed here for the plight of Gaza’s Palestinian population, who have suffered far more lethal consequences from Israeli aerial assaults. Based on previous experience of Israel’s deadly offensives against the militant groups in Gaza, Israelis were bracing for world condemnation.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that 45 people had been killed in the Israeli air bombardments that began early Tuesday, 23 of them women and children, and more than 300 wounded. Most of the casualties were caused by airstrikes on houses that Israel says were being used as operation centers by militant commanders.
Hamas and other groups have fired more than 200 rockets ever deeper into Israel over the last two days, but they are inaccurate, often falling in open ground, and Israelis are well drilled in safety procedures and the cities are protected by the Iron Dome system, helping reduce the risks.
“We try not to harm innocent civilians while they try to harm innocent civilians,” said Shlomi Mekeitel, 55, a retired security manager of the shopping mall. “They consider that an achievement.”
“Clearly what we are doing now is not enough because they are still lobbing rockets at us.”
There was never anything considered risky about living in Ness Ziona or in neighboring Rishon Le Zion, with their manicured parks, fountains, Zionist history and neat, new neighborhoods with ample parking and playgrounds, only adding to the incongruity of the air raid sirens.
The streets were quiet and the stores unusually empty as people chose to stick close to home. Mr. Mekeitel said it felt like Yom Kippur.
In November 2012, during the last round of fierce, cross-border fighting with Gaza, a rocket struck an apartment building in Rishon Le Zion for the first time, causing serious damage to the upper three floors. The occupants escaped serious injury because they were sheltering in a fortified safe room. The renovations were completed and the occupants returned only a few months ago.
Thrown back into the trauma of that day in 2012, neighbors in the middle-class apartment complex, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, expressed a mix of feelings on Wednesday, among them a sense of déjà vu.
“This has to be resolved, either militarily or through talks between leaders,” said Tomer Zemer, 48. “It’s no good just offering an aspirin every six months and having the situation repeat itself.”
One siren on Tuesday night caught Mr. Zemer, his wife and daughter out in their car. They pulled over, got out and lay flat on the ground, folding their arms over their heads.
Etti Sadeh, a teacher and writer, said she hardly took her dog out now and jumped at the sound of an ambulance siren. “I am for peace and negotiations, but not this way,” she said. “We have to attack those who are attacking us. We have no choice.”
Dafna Zur, 50, who lives in Beer Yaakov, another nearby town, said the situation was “like roulette,” but added, “What does it mean, to finish it off?”
“I feel helplessness, like a small pawn in a game,” she continued. “I envy those who speak with exclamation marks and know exactly what should be done.”
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Meanwhile, there is usual saturation coverage of the poor Palestinians. Op-eds and news, the works.