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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.