Ceasefire? Now you see it, now you don’t: Operation Protective Edge Day 8

I had drafted a summary of yesterday’s events but, as you shall see shortly, the news overtook me as always.  So here’s a quick summary of yesterday’s damage:

  • More than 115 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.
  • At least 92 rockets struck Israel.
  • 15 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The IDF hit 163 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.

In the morning a drone from Gaza was shot down over Ashdod – by a Patriot missile. We haven’t heard about those since the Gulf War in 1990/91; and the night before, 2 Katyushas were shot from Lebanon into the north of Israel.  Oh, and amongst all the scores of other alarms, there was another siren and rocket-fall in or around Petach Tikva yesterday afternoon, catching me still at work.

Rocket slams into Eilat hotel

Also for the first time, early this morning, Eilat was targeted when 2 rockets hit a hotel, injuring several people lightly:

Two rockets were launched. One landed in an open area in the Shachmon neighborhood, the second landed on a car in the hotel’s parking lot, which is also next to the Beatles Pub.

Five people were lightly injured from shrapnel. Two additional people were treated for shock.

The article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update: Two terrorist groups, Islamic Jijad and the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which is part of Hamas’s military wing, both independently claimed credit for the attack. (Maybe they should fight it out among themselves, and leave us out of it).

By the time I was ready to post this update, I was hearing rumours of an impending ceasefire. I was so shocked that I was incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together on this post.

The first official reports were that Egypt had proposed a ceasefire to start from today (Tuesday), and that the cabinet was to meet today to discuss the proposal. The terms were short and clear:

The proposal, which was published on the eve of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s expected visit to Cairo, states that Israel would end all “hostilities” in the Gaza Strip from the land, air and sea and would refrain from launching a ground offensive that targets civilians

According to the proposal, the Palestinian factions in would cease all “hostilities” emanating from the Gaza Strip against Israel.

The Egyptian initiative calls for the reopening of the border crossings into the Gaza Strip to passengers and goods as the security situation becomes stable.

Although Israel set out its own conditions …

While diplomatic officials have not stated what Israel’s conditions are for a ceasefire, they have said over the last few days that the type of agreement that would lead to quiet for only a year or two – such as the agreement that led to the cease-fire in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 – would not be acceptable.

… to say I was furious is a gigantic understatement.  Why on earth was Israel even stopping to consider a ceasefire at this early stage, when its hand is clearly on the upper and the enemy is feeling the pressure if not on the run?

The deadly rocket arsenal of Hamas

The deadly rocket arsenal of Hamas

It’s a pattern that has repeated itself in ever-shortening time spans, and the only result is an emboldened Hamas, better armed, with more, longer-range and more powerful missiles (see the chart at left) that can reach more or less every corner in Israel.  We agreed, under international pressure, to a premature ceasefire after Operation Cast Lead in 2009; then again after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012; and now barely a year and half has passed and here we go again.

In defence of previous ceasefires, we didn’t have the Iron Dome system yet, and the Home Front was taking a severe battering, which in turn put pressure on the government. In Operation Protective Edge however, the Iron Dome has performed spectacularly, enabling the home front to continue as normal a life as is possible under these crazy circumstances. Certainly life in the south has been severely affected as citizens still have to run into their shelters several times a day. There have been several injuries and countless cases of shock and psychological trauma.

Nevertheless, it is precisely the residents of the south who were outraged at the ceasefire, and who want the IDF to continue their campaign to root out the terrorists and their infrastructure once and for all.

Continuing the mathematical progression of the time spans between military operations halving themselves each time, we can probably bet that hostilities will be renewed (if they ever actually cease) within 6 months.  In which case, what was the point of this whole exercise? Why call up 40,000 reservists? Why paralyse the south and let the rest of the country find itself under sporadic fire if you are not going to finish the job completely?

I am not a war-monger and would dearly love to have peace between us and our neighbours. But peace means no hostilities, not even one little rocket aimed at a minor kibbutz on the border. Peace means not inculcating your younger generation to viscerally hate Jews and Israel and wish for the death, nor teaching your children to love death and to wish for martyrdom more than life.  Real peace means normalization, accepting the existence of Israel in your neighbourhood and taking advantage of all the good that we have to offer. And yes, peace means sitting down and talking out our differences or going to arbitration, not war, when we can’t agree.

In the absence of all the above, or of the enemy’s complete surrender, no ceasefire should be considered.

Israel was also not under any great international pressure, certainly not when compared to previous military operations.  The UN hasn’t even issued a resolution condemning Israel as yet.

Even the Palestinian UN representative condemned Hamas for their “crimes against humanity”!

“The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets,” said Kraishi during the interview, translated by MEMRI.

The ambassador said that, by contrast, Israel’s actions follows legal procedures, because the IDF warns Gazan civilians to leave sites and areas before they are bombed.

“Many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures.”

“As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out,” he says.

The world in general is both fed up of Hamas, bored with the repeated conflict with Israel, and more concerned with greater dangers such as ISIS as well as their own home-grown terrorist threat from European-born jihadis returning home brainwashed into extreme Islamism and with battle skills learned from their adventures in Iraq and Syria.

Folding Bibi

From a series of “capitulating Bibi” memes: Translation: In honour of the situation A FOLDING BIBI! 1. Shoot rockets. 2. Threaten war. 3. Bibi folds by himself.

So in the absence of any explanation from our government, I will have to assume that they lost their sanity or their backbone in the rush to the bomb shelter. If they ever had one that is.

One would have thought that Hamas would have jumped at the chance of a ceasefire, after the battering they got and the lack of support they received:- even from the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world:

Having gained the upper hand over Hamas, Israel has agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire, an Israeli official told journalists on Tuesday. Hamas was unable to “sell” its rocket fire to the Arab world or even to Palestinians in the West Bank, who remained largely indifferent to Operation Protective Edge. The officer said that Hamas was “unpleasantly surprised” by the small amount of damage it managed to cause Israel and by Arab and international disinterest.

According to the officer, citizens of Gaza were pushing for the rocket launches to end for both financial reasons and given the widespread damage inflicted on the Strip. While the local leadership in Gaza — which hid within the civilian population — has favored a ceasefire, the movement’s leadership in Qatar, primarily Khaled Mashaal, would like to see it continue.

However you can always rely on Hamas to shoot itself in the foot – as well as at us literally – and they both refused to accept the ceasefire, but continued brazenly to shoot rockets at us. By 3 p.m. today, when 47 rockets had been fired into Israel and after multiple warnings from Israel, (that number has since grown to over 70 at 6 p.m.),  PM Netanyahu finally decided at 3 p.m. that the rocket-fire was too intense, (even one rocket should not be allowed and ought to be responded to) and ordered IDF operations to resume:

 Israel’s cabinet said Tuesday morning it would accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire with Hamas, after seven days of fighting, but Hamas was quick to reject the offer, continuing rocket salvos across the country. In mid-afternoon, Israel resumed attacks on Hamas targets, as Foreign Minister Liberman called to retake full control of the Strip.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman set out his proposal to end the violence from Gaza:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says any ceasefire with Hamas is mere preparation for the next round of violence.

“Israel must go all the way in Gaza. The world must give us its full backing to go all the way,” he says at a press conference.

Liberman says a truce will only allow Hamas to replenish its stock and build more rockets.

“An end result to the operation would see the IDF control Gaza,” he says “Given Hamas’s blatant rejection [of the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire], we must make a clear decision. All this hesitation works against us. We must go all the way. There is no alternative,” he says.

Liberman says that the current situation in the Middle East, in which Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria, Iran is preoccupied with the P5+1 nuclear talks, as well as Syria and Iraq, allows Israel to undertake such an operation. “I hope the [security] cabinet takes this decision,” he says.

MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) is of the same mind:

Speaking at the Knesset, MK Ze’ev Elkin tells US Jewish leaders that when Israel leaves territory it once held, it leads to more attacks on Israel and provides opportunities for its enemies.

Elkin says that the disengagement from Gaza has taught Israel three key lessons: not to rely on foreign forces, not to leave territory without a security arrangement, and to prevent weapons — especially rockets — from being brought into territory formerly held by Israel.

I’m not completely un-understanding of the Prime Minister’s difficult choices. According to some sources, there aren’t many Hamas targets left to be bombed from the air, and the only option left is to go in on the ground. No one has much stomach for a ground invasion with all the difficulties and pitfalls it presents: IDF casualties, civilian casualties, the very real possibility of kidnapping or infiltration from the Hamas city of tunnels underneath Gaza. However the alternative is to continue the status quo with a sequel expected within the year.

There are also other options which for some reason have not been initiated, for example cutting off water and electricity to Gaza completely, and closing the crossings to all goods. Yes, there are those who would call this collective punishment, but no other country in the world would provide fuel, water and food to its deadly enemy, and no other country in the world would allow its own citizens to be collectively punished by incessant rocket-fire for years on end without an appropriate response.

Being Prime Minister entails making difficult, even unpopular choices, and getting them carried out. If Netanyahu cannot do that, he should either create a unity government or call a new election.

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7 Responses to Ceasefire? Now you see it, now you don’t: Operation Protective Edge Day 8

  1. NormanF says:

    I cannot accept someone who has no integrity.

    Arabs may be kidnappers and murderers but they do what they say.

    Israel’s Prime Minister does the complete opposite. What was he thinking when he implied protecting Israel is dependent upon world opinion?

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m at a complete loss Norman. The only other possibility is that he accepted the ceasefire knowing that Hamas would break it. This only raises Israel’s standing in the world.

      Moreover, the proposal came from Egypt, and Israel is keen to improve on its relations with Egypt who now seem to have a leader “we can do business with”.

      Perhaps Bibi reckoned that since Hamas would reject the ceasefire anyway, he might as well gain some political advantage with Egypt.

      But I wish he would address the nation and explain himself to us. This is all speculation.

  2. Reality says:

    and here we go again. We just had yet another siren with 3 rockets shot from the iron dome over an area very near us. Obviously we don’t understand the terms “ceasefire. In Arabic it means Israel ceases & they fire! Pathetic isn’t the word. Even worse was the pro peace rally by the Tel Aviv- living -in their- own- little -bubble -peaceniks last night.They got pounced on by a large counter demonstration. Most of the country agrees to finish this once and for all. Nobody really wnats our precious solders to go in on foot but we’re not left with too many options. Perhaps a UN force would go in together with us & haul out all the weapons? Perhaps pigs will fly .I cannot believe that we wasted a golden opportunity of leaving 70 000 Gazans without electricity as we fixed the lines today. Why? Are we really so humanitarian? What on earth for? I just heard Danny Danon speaking & he said its time for Israel to stop worrying what the west will say. They may be on our side temporarily now but we all know that will change in an instant. Its time we took care of our own populace by ourselves & we have to set the terms for the EVENTUAL ceasefire.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, I fully agree. We are too good for our own good. Seriously. We try to help the Palestinians and they bite the hand that feeds them. And then they complain when we withdraw that hand because it hurt. And it’s clear that acting just to get world approval is a waste of time, and in any case it’s not ethical. A gov’t has to act in its country’s own interests and not for the approval or interests of anyone else, even the vaunted UN or USA.

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “Why on earth was Israel even stopping to consider a ceasefire at this early stage, when its hand is clearly on the upper and the enemy is feeling the pressure if not on the run?” Because (remember, this is from someone on the “sane left”) Bibi is a better politician than you are giving him credit for. Boots on the ground mean Israeli lives at risk. If that can be avoided, good. At the same time, Sisi knows very well that (a) he is never (underlined and in bold) going to war with Israel: it would cost too many Egyptian lives and too much army equipment; (b) Hamas is his enemy too – just see what is happening in Sinai and he would love to see Israel hammer them.

    Thus, (c) he can propose a cease-fire and Bibi can accept on Israel’s behalf knowing that the likelihood is that Hamas will reject it, because they are crazy. If it holds, fine. If not, pin-point strikes in Gaza within minutes of Hamas rockets out.

    Indeed, the news I’ve just heard (at 11.00 pm local UK time) said that Israel had struck 32 targets in Gaza in response to Hamas’s 50 rockets which, sadly, killed one person. Even Jeremy Bowen of the BBC (peh, peh, peh) acknowledged that Israel accepted the cease fire and Hamas broke it (he’ll probably have forgotten that he said that by this time tomorrow).

    And boots on the ground (and tanks in the streets) still aren’t ruled out: keep the bastards guessing!

    BTW, I’ve sent Anne a link to an article arguing that one of the great advantages of Iron Dome is that, because of its accuracy, it gives the politicians time to decide whether to launch a ground offensive or not. They aren’t rushed into it by mounting Israeli casualties or impossible disruption to the economy. Maybe she’ll have the chance to publish it tomorrow. I don’t have it to hand at the moment.

    • anneinpt says:

      Brian, your hypothesis (re Egypt’s relations with Israel) and mine more or less crossed over each other. See my comment in reply to Norman above.

      Great minds and all that 🙂

      Thanks for the articles and links. I’ll get around to making something of them at some point!

  4. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Now this is interesting. From today’s Gatehouse Institute:
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4439/congress-israel-hamas

    “What the Congressional resolutions overlook is that Hamas has officially renounced its responsibility for governing Gaza, while the Palestinian unity government has already begun the process of taking over the administration of Gaza. Over a week ago (July 5/6), a senior Hamas official, Ahmad Yousef, was “asked about increased rocket fire on Israel in recent weeks” in an interview with Palestinian news agency Ma’an. His answer: “From a political point of view, (Prime Minister) Rami Hamdallah is responsible and he can give orders to security services to intervene. Hamas is not ruling the Gaza Strip and so it’s not responsible for protecting borders””

    The Congressional Resolutions are to support Israel’s right to defend itself.

    This suggests that if the “technocratic” (whatever that means) PM of the Pal Authority orders Hamas to stop firing rockets, that is a legitimate government order. If Hamas obey, fine. Everyone (except for the suicidally-inclined Jihadists) is happy. If, however, they continue firing rockets, then, now being a non-state agency, they are outside the law, and Israel is justified in continuing to defend both its territorial integrity and the lives of its citizens.

    Any lawyers out there able to confirm or correct this interpretation?

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