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gaza ceasefire

War, no war?

Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting that there is no ceasefire in Gaza. Huh? The absence of a ceasefire means there is a war. The term ceasefire does not apply to hostile territories, which is how the Israeli government designates Gaza officially.

Meanwhile, Israel has re-opened land crossings with Gaza despite a Jew being killed by a Grad rocket.

Ehud Barak once warned Hamas not to test Israeli resolve. Nothing to test, really.

Terrorists don’t trust Israeli resolve

The IDF units on the Sinai border have maintained the highest level of preparedness for a week now, expecting a terrorist attack from Egypt. The attack is thought to be carried out by PIJ in retaliation for Israel assassinating their leader, in retaliation for the rocket attacks, which were a retaliation for Israel’s assassination of PRC leaders, which itself was a retaliation for the PRC’s terrorist attack in Sinai.

Hamas wouldn’t let PIJ carry out more terrorist attacks right now unless Hamas had received Israeli assurances in the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that government installations in Gaza would not be bombed. Nor would the PIJ carry out more attacks if it believed that Israel would escalate the conflict.

Major cities under missile attack

Muslims from Gaza launched multiple rocket strikes against the Israeli population centers of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, and a number of smaller locations.

Such indiscriminate attacks against civilians are classified as war crimes during armed conflicts, much more so when the hostilities fall short of war. No condemnations ensued from the UNSC, and the Israeli government continued supplying water and power to Gaza. Now imagine the outcry if we were to bomb Gaza’s residential districts.

The attacks were perpetrated by Hamas even though they had been prompted by Israel’s retaliation against the PRC for its violation of Hamas’ own orders to stop violating the de facto ceasefire with Israel. Hamas, to be sure, is the legitimate government of Gaza, and so represents its people.

As usual, Israel swallowed the blows instead of bombing everything Hamas in Gaza out of existence.

HAMAS fighters

Choosing the most friendly terrorists

Despite the ceasefire with Gaza, two Grad rockets hit Ashdod over the weekend. The attacks have been blamed on Salafists, and IDF only nominally retaliated against Gazan targets in recognition of Hamas’ inability to control the Wahhabist groups.

Which is not true. When Salafists challenged Hamas’ rule two years ago, the moderate terrorists stormed their mosque, killing or wounding every Salafist inside. It took the Salafists more than a year to return to their former strength.

Israel has to decide whether we will deal with Gaza as a state—and pound it in response to any attacks from there—or a lawless territory whose nominal government cannot be held responsible for all domestic acts of violence, in which case Israel is legally permitted to take over the place. We tried that in the West Bank: we pretended that Fatah terrorists are good and cooperative, and cannot be held responsible for Hamas attacks. Now we are taking a similar approach to Gaza. Israel’s attitude invites established terrorist groups to tolerate violent offshoots: they score PR points by allowing attacks on Israel to be carried out by other groups under their control, and do not risk Israeli retaliation.

Even if Israel wants to discriminate between good Hamas and bad Salafists, we still have plenty of Salafist targets, including their mosques. And even if we do not want to target their mosques in daytime (though they have no compunction about targeting our civilians) we can destroy the empty buildings at night.

Some Jews are less equal than others

Rocket hits SderotThe Israeli government has accepted a ceasefire arrangement with Hamas under which the terrorist group will refrain from firing missiles at larger Israeli cities such as Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba, but will be permitted to continue small-scale attacks on Sderot and the Negev kibbutzim.

Think about it: Hamas is concerned that its credibility with Gazans will be damaged unless it keeps up its attacks on some Jewish cities, but the Israeli government’s credibility remains intact if Hamas attacks some Jewish towns.

The ceasefire reinstates an earlier situation in which Hamas fired at backwater Jewish communities at will while IDF contented itself with striking empty shacks in Gaza.

Gaza war: anytime but now

Gaza war: anytime but nowIsraeli officials accepted Hamas’ offer of a ceasefire, but insisted that the Palestinians should be the first to cease fire; Israel would then follow.

Ceasefire was a sensible option two years ago because Hamas, acting on its Islamic values, could not agree to any kind of peace with Jews. The current situation is different: Iran is stepping up weapons deliveries to Gaza, and Rafah Crossing may be opened any time—and even if it isn’t, Egypt won’t enforce the weapons embargo. Already we are dealing with advanced antitank and anti-aircraft rockets, and we only narrowly prevented the Libyan rebels from delivering shells containing chemical weapons to Hamas. Maintaining a ceasefire would allow Hamas to arm itself to the point that the inevitable next war with Gaza will be a real war, not a slam-dunk affair like it was two years ago.

Meanwhile, IDF announced that it has upgraded its maps to include 3,000 buildings in Gaza that won’t be targeted, such as schools, UNRWA installations, and houses. That is quite a hint to Hamas to hide its command-and-control centers precisely in those places.

IDF chief: Hamas is not that bad

IDF’s Chief of  South Command told residents of Eshkol, which has been ravaged by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, that their troubles stem from anarchy on the Strip. The implication is that Hamas cannot control various terrorist groups, including its own armed wing.

There is no anarchy in the sense that Hamas is unable to enforce a ceasefire. It finances Izz ad Din Kassam Brigades and can always order a stop to the attacks. Similarly, Hamas can control PIJ, even though Islamic Jihad has greatly increased its arsenals since the 2009 war. Rather, Hamas dances on the thin line between placating Israel and the Arab terrorists.

And indeed, Hamas offered Israel to renew the de facto ceasefire, a sure sign that the terrorist group can control the fighters when it wants to.

Lull in the US war in Yemen

Obama might want to keep a low profile in Yemen, but the US military presence there is already huge. Yemen and Saudi Arabia have succeeded in dragging the United States into their sectarian violence.

Yemeni and Saudi Salafis presented their conflict with the Zaidi sect as a terrorist-related issue by trumpeting Zaidis’ ties to Al Qaeda. Never mind that the Salafis have similar ties, and indeed Salafist groups in Gaza are so tilted toward Al Qaeda that Hamas sees them as a political threat to its regime.

The fact that a handful of about 8 million of Yemeni Zaidis have acquired a terrorist franchise from Al Qaeda in no way justifies America acting as a Saudi mercenary in that conflict.

The warring parties signed a ceasefire, which was broken a few hours later.

Egyptians intercept a ton of explosives

Egyptians authorities intercepted a ton of explosives en route to Gaza. Despite the announced ceasefire, Palestinian guerrillas are clearly stocking up their arsenals.

Ceasefire lasted one day

The ceasefire in Gaza ended sooner than we expected when someone from Gaza launched a rocket at Israel and IAF responded by bombing empty spaces there.

Typically an irresponsible splinter group, often backed by Fatah in order to torment Hamas, launches a rocket at the Israeli desert to provoke the next round of clashes.

IAF’s feeble response contrasts with the “iron fist” policy Defense Minister Barak promised against IDF’s own soldiers.

Smuggling into Gaza is at its high

As we expected, Egyptian anti-smuggling efforts have proved to be a short-lived show. The Egyptians have turned a blind eye to Palestinian smugglers who operate about 500 tunnels near Rafah.

Neither does the Israeli government want to crack down on smuggling, because efficient closure of the border would damage the ceasefire understanding with Hamas. If anything, Hamas profits from border closure because it extracts racketeering fees from smugglers.

By far, the bulk of smuggled goods are household stuff.

Israel-Hamas: Another fragile ceasefire

After holding indirect talks with Israel in Geneva, Hamas announced a halt to all rocket attacks from Gaza, a typical confidence-building measure.

The halt will last until IDF’s next hostile action. In a typical cycle of violence, some guerrillas come dangerously close to IDF personnel near the fence, IDF responds with fire, and the Gazans shoot a few shells into Israel. IDF then retaliates against empty tunnels in Rafah, and the violence starts all over again.

In war, confidence-building and half-measures do not work.

In Lebanon, too, Jews are guilty

Emboldened by the Goldstone report, which blamed Israel for defending herself in Gaza, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon accused Israel of violating UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon war.

Israel, mind you, “violated” the ceasefire by planting spy devices in Lebanon. A million violations by Hezbollah are not worth the UN’s attention.

Resolution 1701 has never been observed, as Hezbollah keeps rearming itself and Israel still conducts aerial raids into Lebanon.

Hamas war crimes: no, really?

Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Hamas of war crimes—the terrorist group had launched untargeted rockets at Israel. The report does not indicate that HRW has suddenly became honest in the least; rather, HRW wants to retain a minimal amount of credibility after blaming Israel in scores of reports.

HRW even suggested a course of action to Hamas by classifying the rocket attacks as war crimes solely because no military installations were in the vicinity. Thus, as long as Hamas fires in the general direction of IDF bases, its actions are not terrorism. HRW is lying: since Israel and Gaza maintain a de facto ceasefire, rocket attacks are a violation of peace very similar to a war crime.

Hamas praises an attack on IDF

IDF engaged Palestinian gunmen and mortar squads who approached the Gaza border near the Karni Crossing, obviously to attack the Israelis. A number of Arabs are dead in the lopsided fighting, in which IDF employed tanks and helicopters.

Though Hamas remains at ceasefire with Israel, Haniye praised the Palestinian fighters for what indeed was a daring attack.

PA unity government more extreme than before

Hamas rejected an Egyptian offer to form the Palestinian unity government with nominally independent figures. Hamas’ insistence on direct participation practically blocks the talks because the US Administration cannot work with a government whose senior members, likely including the prime minister, insist on armed struggle against Israel.

The dishonest Arafat renounced violence but condoned it. Hamas is straightforward, and for a reason: Arafat, an Israeli-American puppet, did not need to care about Arab street opinion. Genuinely popular Hamas, on other hand, is not eager to taint its reputation with collaboration.

Hamas, though, can afford moderation. It increasingly moves toward political dialogue while leaving terrorism to PIJ, PRC, and other militants. The absence of a ceasefire in Gaza shows that even if Israel reached an agreement with the Hamas government, terrorist attacks from other groups would continue.

The only solution is to expel the Palestinians.

PIJ resumes rocket attacks

PIJ has resumed rocket attacks in response to Israel’s assassination of its commander and a couple of others, its spokesman announced. There was no ceasefire to begin with, as PIJ has shelled Israel continuously.

The intensified confrontation in Gaza has shelved the 1,400:1 prisoner exchange for good, and offers Netanyahu a chance to make good on his election-time commitment to do away with Hamas. The problem is, Hamas has nothing to do with the PIJ attacks.

Hamas demands coordination from Hezbollah

Hamas again arrested Hezbollah’s man in Gaza, Ahmad Salah, for launching rockets at Israel without Hamas’ permission.

Hamas’ policy on permissions is inconsistent. Sometimes, the terrorist group genuinely seeks to maintain ceasefire, and bans rocket launches. Other times, it only seeks to establish its military monopoly by demanding compliance from other terrorist organizations.

Salah was released soon afterward.

Earlier, Olmert had promised retaliation against Lebanon for Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel. Meanwhile, Hezbollah attacks from Gaza, rather than Lebanon.
Britain has established a political dialogue with Hezbollah.

Rocket from Gaza hits Israeli school

A rocket from Gaza hit an Israeli school in Ashkelon. Thanks to Shabbat, the school was empty.
The advanced-type 170mm Kassam-4 rocket penetrated school fortification. While the government debates fortifying schools and kindergartens (“…to dwell safely in our own land”), Arab terrorists improved their rockets to make the fortification obsolete.

The UN, the EU, the US State Department, and the Arab League condemned the attack on an Israeli civilian center in the strongest terms. Just kidding.

When IDF attacked Hamas guerrillas near a UNRWA school in Gaza, the world went berserk.

IDF retaliated by launching three rockets into the tunnels at Rafah. The strikes were carefully targeted to avoid Hamas casualties, so as not to disrupt the ceasefire talks. If those tunnels are so important, why doesn’t the IDF enter the Rafah area to destroy them all?

Olmert again promised “harsh retaliation” for rocket attacks. He lied, as usual.

Government framed itself on prisoner swap

After Olmert pushed through the Cabinet’s decision to condition the Gaza ceasefire on the 1:1,400 prisoner exchange, Egyptians became furious, as they lost a diplomatic victory—arranging a truce between Israel and Hamas.

More importantly, Israel upped the stakes in a game that her opponent cannot afford to lose. After giving the jailed arch-terrorists an expectation of impending release, Hamas cannot come to say, Saadat, and tell him, “Sorry, but you stay in jail.”
Hamas cannot reduce its demands for a prisoner exchange, Egyptians and the EU/Obama are pressing Israel for a truce, and the domestic media are pushing for Shalit’s release at any cost. By linking the high-stakes truce to Shalit, the government will be forced to pay any price for the corporal—and it is not even clear that he’s alive.

The Arab terrorists are lucky—sooner or later, they will be released, but Jews who kill some Arabs under questionable circumstances will languish in jail. Israel is prepared to release Ahmed Saadat, who murdered an Israeli minister, but not Yigal Amir, who executed a prime minister.