The situation on Israel’s major borders is so volatile that it looks like we’re in for a long hot summer in more ways than one.
Let’s have a quick look at the smouldering southern border with Gaza, via Arlene Kushner:
Last [Wednesday] night, Hamas encouraged some 20 young people (children) to protest violently at the fence, drawing the attention of an IDF patrol in the area. The rioters were used as a cover by snipers, who were behind them and shot at the IDF soldiers.
All together now: AGAIN?
An officer was hit; thankfully he was wounded and not killed. Shot in the chest and stomach, he was originally declared critical but his condition has since improved. Obviously, that high powered Austrian Steyr rifle was not the weapon utilized this time. His mother called it a miracle.
All of this took place about 400 meters from where Aviv Levi was killed last week.
Israel retaliated using tanks and planes. Several Hamas sites were hit and three members of Hamas were killed. Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, then declared that “Israel will pay in blood for its latest crimes.”
Very early this morning residents of three communities adjacent to Gaza were aroused from their sleep when sirens sounded: Nine rockets were launched from Gaza. Eight fell in empty fields and one was shot down by Iron Dome. Israel then responded with a tank shelling.
Oh, then there are the fires. We’ve had several – in excess of 10 — from incendiary devices in the last few days, including today.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the Security Cabinet, said this morning:
“We are being dragged into a broader campaign with Hamas. We are getting closer in big steps…to a situation in which the IDF will need to set out on a broad operation.”
Defense and security heads met last night to consider Israel’s next step.
According to journalist Ron Ben Yishai, the political leadership of Hamas does not want Israel in Gaza, it is the military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, that seeks war.
While this distinction may explain some of the mixed messages of Hamas, in the end it will be moot: If the Brigades want to provoke war, they likely will have war.
Added to this miserable mix, in a similar insidious manner to the Gaza terrorists who hid behind innocent children in order to shoot at IDF soldiers, two Palestinian teens were arrested trying to infiltrate into Israel smuggling weapons in a schoolbag:
Border Police caught two Palestinian teens Saturday afternoon that had managed to sneak several hundred feet into Israel from the West Bank with a pair of home-made machine guns.
The Israeli troops had been carrying out a routine foot-patrol of the “Seam Zone” east of the Green Line and west of the security barrier when they noticed two suspects that had managed to cross into Israeli territory near the Oranit settlement.
They chased down the suspects, who tried unsuccessfully to flee. One of them was carrying a backpack, which the Border Police officers opened after apprehending the pair to find two Carlo-style submachine guns along with bullet magazines.
Let us also not forget the constant fires set by Palestinian arsonists launching incendiary kites and balloons despite all their protestations that they want a ceasefire. Adele Raemer from the Gaza border region writes:
July 29th Kite and balloon arson update. According to the Fire and Rescue Dept of the South, there were 7 fires today, including this one, in Erez. (I counted more than that in what I uploaded to the map… but what do I know?)
Moving further north, Jerusalem is still a powder keg on the Temple Mount thanks to the incendiary (there’s that word again) incitement spouted by the Muslim leadership. Dozens of Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount on Friday and police had to use stun and smoke grenades to disperse the violent crowds:
Police arrested 24 Arab worshipers and four officers were wounded after violent clashes broke out between rioters and police following Friday prayers on the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem Police said that at the end of prayers, in an “unclear and inexplicable move,” rioters began throwing fireworks and stones at police forces.
According to police, after dozens of rioters barricaded themselves inside al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem District Asst.-Ch. Yoram Halevy ordered police to clear the site. Police arrested 16 of those barricaded inside the mosque and detained another eight during the clashes.
During the dispersal of the rioters, the police used stun and smoke grenades.
Police said further arrests were planned and that they “intend to work hard and uncompromisingly against the suspects who have been arrested and others who were involved.”
Further fanning the flames, Palestinian officials warned of igniting a religious war – as if they were not the ones doing the igniting, and hyperbolically accusing Israel of yet another “massacre”:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “dangerous Israeli trespasses against al-Aqsa Mosque” and called on the international community to stop the Israeli “aggression.”
Abbas and several PA officials warned that Israel’s actions in east Jerusalem in general and on the Temple Mount in particular would trigger a “religious war.”
Abbas’s religious affairs adviser, Mahmoud Habbash, described the police intervention against the stone-throwers as a “massacre” against the Haram al-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary].”
The PA’s “Jerusalem governor,” Adnan Husseini, described the actions of the police on the Temple Mount as “dangerous.” He said he expects more “assaults” in the future against Muslim worshipers at the site.
Jordan of course couldn’t let a good riot go to waste and condemned Israel for responding to the riot (as if Jordan never repressed any riot anywhere):
Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat condemned “ongoing Israeli provocations at the mosque compound, including the storming of the site on Friday by Israeli police and their assault on Palestinian worshipers and employees of the Religious Endowments Authority.”
“Such reprehensible practices violate the sanctity of this holy place, provoke the feelings of Muslims around the world, and violate Israel’s legal obligations as an occupying power in East Jerusalem,” she added in a statement quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
Ghneimat also described recent events at Al-Aqsa as “a violation of international conventions that stress the need to respect places of worship.”
Seriously I don’t think Ghneimat has a clue what “violation” “international” or “convention” means, but Jordan is doing its best to jump on the bandwagon of inciting against Israel in order to distract its populace from their domestic misery.
The Northern Border
Heading up to Israel’s northern border now, the border with Syria has been dramatically heating up in recent weeks, with stray missiles landing in or near Israeli territory, including the Sea of Galilee, and Israel even shooting down a Syrian plane (and earlier a drone) which entered Israeli airspace and ignored requests in multiple languages to turn back.
The former head of the IDF’s military intelligence said Thursday that the firing of a pair of missiles from Syria into the Sea of Galilee a day earlier was likely an effort by the Islamic State group to draw Israel into a confrontation with the Syrian regime.
The missiles crashed into the lake mere dozens of meters from groups of tourists, according to eyewitnesses, and were initially thought to be spillover fighting from intense battles taking place just over the border in Syria, where regime forces backed by Russian air power are attempting to gain control of a last pocket held by jihadists.
But Amos Yadlin, a former IDF general, said it seemed the Islamic State had deliberately targeted Israel, looking to take advantage of the IDF’s policy of striking forces belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad in response to spillover violence.
However all was not what it seemed. The IDF’s triumphant announcement that the first use of the David’s Sling missile had brought down the Syrian missiles turned out to be premature, not to say exaggerated. Turns out the David’s Sling was more of a miss than a missile:
The decision-making process that led to the first operational use of the David’s Sling anti-missile system last week was correct, the army said Sunday, even though technical issues led to the interceptor missiles missing their targets.
“In the past few days, a complete operational inquiry was conducted by the Air Force, which found that the decision-making process of identifying the threat, considering the short amount of time, was correct,” the army said, following an investigation into Monday’s incident.
However, the technical reasons for why the missiles failed to hit their targets, which were fired from Syria, could not be published due to security concerns. “The lessons learned from this investigation will be implemented in the air defense system,” the army said.
The Syrian rockets, which were apparently fired as part of internal fighting in the country’s southwest, set off sirens throughout northern Israel on Monday morning.
The projectiles fired from Syria were identified as Russian-made OTR-21 Tochka missiles (also known as SS-21 Scarab missiles) and were in the air for a minute and a half. The missiles can carry a 500 kilogram (half ton) warhead and have a range of 100 kilometers (60 miles).
The army calculated that the missiles were heading for Israeli territory and waited until the last moment to fire the anti-missile interceptors. After David’s Sling was launched, a recalculation showed that one of the missiles was going to land in Syrian territory, so the interceptor was redirected so as not to hit it. The Syrian missile landed one kilometer (3,000 feet) short of the border. The army did not explain what happened with the second missile, which reportedly fell to ground in Syria.
If lessons will indeed be learned then this was at least a valuable exercise, and of course David’s Sling forms a vital part of Israel’s missile defense system once it is perfected.
The bad news from the Syrian front is that Assad’s regime is back on Israel’s doorstep aided by Russia and Iran, after 7 years of being distracted with its civil war:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian government forces on Thursday raised the flag in the buffer zone separating Syrian-held territory from the Israeli Golan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syria’s southwestern Quneitra province includes the Syrian Golan Heights, on the border of the territory held by Israel.
The part of the province to the east of the buffer zone fell almost totally under regime control after a brief military offensive followed by deals under which the rebels surrendered or were evacuated from the region.
The area has witnessed fierce fighting between rebels and the regime, with fire occasionally hitting Israeli territory and prompting retaliation.
Israel in particular objects to the presence of regime-allied foreign fighters close to its borders: namely, Iranian forces or units from Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
As I ahve mentioned before, Binyamin Netanyahu has been walking a tightrope in negotiating Israel’s security requirements with Russia and the US. So far so good but the situation is exceedingly fragile and volatile. All it takes is one wrong move, one misfired missile from any side, and the whole situation could descend into outright war G-d forbid.
And as if all this was not enough to contend with, the silly season is upon us once more with yet another ridiculous “aid flotilla” being stopped by the Israeli Navy before it could enter Gaza’s waters:
The Israel Navy intercepted the flotilla boat Al Awda on Sunday after it disobeyed commands to stop sailing toward the Gaza Strip.
“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the Norwegian Government, the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom [Flotilla], other national governments, and relevant international organizations to act immediately,” said Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.
“The international community must assume its responsibilities and demand that Israeli authorities ensure the safety of those on board, the speedy delivery of our gifts to the Palestinian people in Gaza, an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, and to stop impeding our legal right of innocent passage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies.”
Right. Because Israel doesn’t deliver hundreds of tons of food and medical aid to Gaza daily. Oh, wait…
The former fishing boat was sailing under a Norwegian flag and took off from Italy with 22 activists on board, including Israeli activist Yonatan Shapira who is on his fourth attempt to break the blockade from the sea.
Other activists came from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK and the United States.
“There are people in the flotilla’s coalition with ties to the campaign in Gaza, but this flotilla was planned before that and with no connections to the campaign,” Zohar Regev told the news site.
Following Al Awda was a Swedish-flagged yacht called Freedom Italy, with 36 activists from 15 different countries, said Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza.
And look what a nice man Birawi is. Not. He is a despicable terrorist:
Birawi, who is based in London, also heads the “International Coordination Committee for the Great Return March.” He was designated by Israel’s Justice Ministry in 2013 as being a member of a terrorist organization, the Hamas Headquarters in Europe.
So much for their vaunted “humanitarian” aims.
Which brings us back full circle to the beginning – terrorists hiding behind civilians or disguising themselves as “peace activists” in order to destroy Israel.
They won’t succeed of course, and I hope they kill themselves trying, but as I said at the beginning, it is going to be a long hot summer in more ways than one.