Duck and cover
With deep-strike weapons (like terrorist commandos and long range rockets) available even to non-state actors the idea of a "front line" is beginning to vanish. A retired IDF general office told an Israeli radio audience that "The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory. ... Strikes to the rear must now be taken into account -- that is what will come and we must prepare in a totally different way for this eventuality." In the face of that threat, even those who lived far from the traditional front lines would eventually have to construct "rocket rooms". Bomb shelters in other words.
The World War 2 equivalent of the personal bunker was the Anderson air raid shelter, but it was soon realized that any aboveground shelter offered very limited protection from blast or fragmentation. Getting underground was the best defense. Unfortunately not every family had enough backyard to dig in so relative safety was provided by sheltering in the strongest structural parts of the building. Modern warfare has compounded the problem. Not only must families defend against fragments and blast, they now must guard against gas and possible bacteriological agents by hiding in sealed "safe rooms".
All of this is enormously inconvenient. A country under prolonged bombardment soon begins to lose efficiency as movements are restricted and work is interrupted. When a country enters a period of sporadic, but chronic bombardment a new normalcy eventually emerges but it is rarely better than the old one. While Europe and America are not in any imminent danger of being rocketed, the equivalent of commando raids carried out by suicide bombers on public targets may eventually reproduce a kind of low-intensity but constant threat in every part of the world.
Even before the availability of longer-ranged rockets, Israel's ability to strike back at rocketeers in Gaza and Lebanon was severely constrained by political factors. Now with its civilian population increasingly within rocket range, groups like Hezbollah have in addition begun to acquire a deterrent capability against IDF offensive action in addition to their political protection. Strikes against Israel's enemies must in the future be weighed against the likely cost its public will bear in response.
Without being able to threaten a decisive response, Israel has lost its primary defense against bombardment from beyond its borders. Unlike South Korea, which has built the bustling and modern metropolis of Seoul within range of thousands of North Korean artillery pieces without much in the way of building shelters, Israel cannot threaten to invade and occupy the territory of its tormentors in the event of provocation. While the residents of Seoul can effectively hide behind the threat of massive response in order to go on with their daily lives, Israelis must resort to the much less effective and strategically weaker riposte of burrowing underground and taping up their windows. No one believes Israel will strike back decisively against those who fire on it. And so they will fire on it.
Israel's right to self-defense has been gradually delegitimized by the political fashions in the West. The process will continue to the point where either Israel loses the right of self-defense altogether or reasserts it in a spasm, an event which will shake the region to its foundations. Perhaps the real significance of Israel's population centers coming within terrorist rocket range is that it will leave it with no room to retreat. The last "give" will have gone from the system and it will be an accident waiting to happen. While Israel's enemies may imagine themselves ascendant, objectively speaking their combat power vis-a-vis the IDF is surpassingly small. They may unwittingly take themselves past the limits lulled by the past into thinking the future will always be more of the same. And like a man who imagines that a startled tiger is retreating before him out of fear of his puny muscles, many unpleasant surprises may be in store.
Until international diplomats can find a way to repeal the laws of physics and the human desire to survive, building peace in the Middle East will depend not only on guaranteeing the existence of Palestine but also the existence of Israel.