Israelis woke up this morning with a bad taste in their mouths. Last night (November 21st), at 21:00, Israel declared a “unilateral cease fire” with Hamas. What this means is anyone’s guess, but at 21:17 sirens were already wailing and rockets were falling. The cease fire came into being after intense efforts made by Hillary Clinton and President Morsi of Egypt. Israel also promised to ease the siege on Gaza.
Rocket fire ceased after midnight, but there have been a number of rockets fired during the day as well.
Many Israelis feel that Israel was in a better position before Operation “Pillar of Defense” than after. We mobilized 75,000 reservists who never actually saw any combat (they did, however, film their own version of the Gangham Style song, which is amusing). But the rain of rockets did not stop prior to the cease fire. Not only that, a terrorist blew up a bus in the heart of Tel Aviv, just 9 hours earlier. Hamas has been celebrating the cease fire as a victory and handing out sweets on the streets. They also handed out sweets on the streets when they heard of the bus exploding in Tel Aviv.
At the outset of the operation, there were many who drew connections between Israel’s military actions and the political gains in them for PM Netanyahu, FM Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the end of this operation, I can’t help but noticing that this ceasefire is probably the worst thing Netanyahu could do for his election prospects. Voters across the board are enraged at the poor outcome of the operation and at ending it before any real results were reached. This brings me to think that there is more to what’s going on here than we are being told. I can think of two possibilities:
- I saw a caricature this morning, in which Hillary Clinton is shaking Netanyahu’s hand and thanking him for complying with the cease fire brokered by the US and Egypt. In her other hand, Clinton is holding a gun to Netanyahu’s head. Could the the US have threatened Israel with sanctions so severe that Netanyahu prematurely ended an operation designed to bring security to Israel?
- While it is easy to go along with Israelis’ feelings of defeat and Hamas’s declared victory, the public has very little information of what damage Hamas has really suffered. It is quite possible that Hamas outwardly cried victory, while in reality they pushed for a ceasefire in order to lick their wounds. This round in the conflict was waged in the arena of public opinion as well as the battlefield. While Hamas tries to portray a victory, could they have actually reached the brink of defeat on the battlefield?
While Israel’s successes in this campaign are relatively unknown to the public, Hamas’s actions are known: Over a period of 8 days, Hamas fired 1500 rockets into Israel, killing 6 Israelis (four civilians and two soldiers) and wounding over 500. However, “Iron Dome”, Israel’s new rocket defense system, proved itself and succeeded in intercepting over 420 rockets with a 90% success rate (there are only five operational “Iron Dome” batteries, and therefore not all areas are covered). Meanwhile, Israel killed 163 Palestinians (according to Ynet, the online website of Yediot Ahronot), almost all of them were members of terrorist oragnizations, including the “head of the serpent”, Ahmed Ja’abri. Israel also attacked and destroyed over 1500 terrorist facilities.
For Israel, this means billions of shekels in reconstruction and labor lost, while 1.5 million Israelis were in bomb shelters. For the Palestinians, probably only intelligence services know the real extent of damage done to Hamas and the other organizations and what it means for their organizations.
“Unilateral cease fire” is a whitewashed term for surrender. Woe to the country that surrenders to terrorism. Woe to the world, because when Israel surrenders to terrorism, the rest of the world is sure to eventually follow. But was this really a surrender? Did we really finish this conflict with our tails between our legs? Israelis are notorious for complaining, terrorists are notorious braggers. I would not be too quick to label this as a Hamas victory.
The question that remains is this: once enough time has gone by for there to be no doubt that all the Palestinian terror organizations and cells have gotten the memo about the cease fire, will rockets continue to rain down and make Israelis’ lives miserable? And if they do, will Israel tolerate it any longer? How long will this cease fire last? For a cease fire to have any real effect, Hamas needs to know that Israel will not tolerate even one rocket.
I did not have time to write an update yesterday (November 21st), so here is a quick summing up of the events since my previous post:
- Tuesday night (Nov 20): an Israeli woman of 60 was severely wounded near the town of Beitar Illit. The car she was driving in was attacked by Palestinians who threw stones at her. Stones can kill, especially when thrown at a moving car.
- Tuesday night (Nov 20): a Fajr 5 missile, carrying a 90 KG warhead of explosives, fired by Hamas, hit a residential building in the city of Rishon Letzion. Four people were wounded. Most of the residents were inside the bomb shelters. The bomb shelters were the only part of the building which remained intact.
- In my last post, I wrote about the demonstration held by Arab students in the HebrewUniversity. To add to the absurdity of it all, at 14:14, when the siren sounded in Jerusalem, the Arab protesters, protesting in favor of Hamas, ran for safety, because three Hamas missiles were headed their way. Here is video footage of the absurd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZbBCBt2s8o
- Wednesday (Nov 21): Hamas rocket attacks on the Eshkol regional council area left two dead (one soldier and one civilian) and others wounded. A second soldier died of his wounds today. The people who were killed were-
- Private Yosef Partuk (18) of the Ultra Orthodox town of Imanuel. Army service is frowned upon in the Ultra Orthodox community, and Partuk’s family requested that he not be given a military funeral.
- Alian Salem al-Nabari, of the Bedouin community.
- First Lietenant (reserve) Boris Yarmulnik (28) of Netanya died today of his wounds.
- Wednesday (Nov 21): A house in the Be’er Tuvia regional council suffered a direct hit by a Hamas rocket. A number of people were treated for shock.
- Wednesday (Nov 21) 12:08: Initial reports of an explosion in a bus in the center of Tel Aviv. 27 people were wounded in the explosion. When news of the explosion reached Gaza, there was celebrating in the streets.
I feel like a broken record repeating this message over and over, but it has to be said: this is the difference between us- we mourn the death of civilians, even if they are Palestinians. They target Israeli civilians and rejoice when they succeed. When this is what we’re dealing with, I have no doubt that the cease fire will not last very long.
But for now, life will return to normal, which means my next post will be about the primaries in Likud, taking place on Sunday (Nov 25). And after that, the primaries in the Labor party next Thursday (Nov 29) I might even fill my readers in on the outcome of the primaries in Meretz and HaBayit HaYehudi, which took place last week (Nov 11 and Nov 13). Until then, peace and long life.
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