THE volatile situation in the Middle East has been bubbling over since Wednesday, when Israel retaliated for terror attacks from Gaza.
The Israelis do not hang about when provoked.
Palestinian fanatics have been firing longer and longer range missiles into Israel, which is such a small country that the capital Tel Aviv is now within range of the rockets.
Israel has few friends internationally, which is a tragedy because it is one of the great civilisations. Settlers turned desert into fertile land. Its success stands in sharp contrast to the countries all around it that are, to varying degrees, economically backward and culturally repressive.
It is a political irony that many Europeans of a cosmopolitan and liberal outlook display such hatred towards the most democratically open and culturally enlightened nation in the region, while supporting its less democratic, in some cases dictatorial, neighbours, all of which have primitive notions of the rights of the individual and equality.
Those neighbouring countries show little sign of the sort of self-examination that might help them understand their own failings.
Instead, to varying degrees, the countries vilify Israel, and give succour to militants in the West Bank and Gaza.
Tel Aviv is as close to Gaza as Belfast is to Ballymoney.
Now that rockets can reach the Israeli capital, the besieged nation faces the prospect of almost permanent war. Technology will only improve the range of the missiles.
How Israel responds long-term remains to be seen. But the country’s few allies, of which Britain is one, should give it broad support, particularly when its civilians are the target of unprovoked attacks.