Another Sign of Impending War

Another sign of impending war here in Israel (in addition to the many rocket attacks in the south) is the work being done in the diplomatic and public relations spheres. When the Prime Minister goes to various countries to visit, he has private talks in addition to the sound bytes we see in the media. I don’t know what he is saying obviously, but I am sure the subject of the coming conflict must come up.

In terms of public relations, the Washington Post has an article that says that Israel has released a map showing thousands of sites in Lebanon where ammunition is being stored by Hezbollah in bunkers. Many of these bunkers are near hospitals, private homes and schools. In other words, the terrorists are hiding behind human shields by putting their ammunition there.

The big question of course is whether or not this information will be ignored.

Wow – One Day Without Kassam Rockets!

Updated daily, and sometimes hourly!

When war breaks out between the IDF and our enemies, the world media usually reports it as if it happens in a vacuum, ignoring the actions that lead up to the war itself. I have been posting for a few months already  (January’s list is here, February’s list is here) on the actions that will lead up to the next war in Gaza, so that there will be a record, (on my blog at least).

March 15 – The IDF siezed a ship filled with arms being smuggled from Iran to Gaza. The Muqata has the coverage here. In addition, trucks with arms on their way to Gaza have been stopped bythe Egyptians. It is obvious that Hamas is preparing for the next war.

March 16 – rockets fired into the Negev, no injuries reported.

March 18 – four mortar shells fired into western Negev. Anti-tank missile fired at IDF jeep on routine patrol on border with Gaza.

March 19 - 54 mortar shells fired into southern Israel – two people injured. One lands on roof of kindergarden, no injuries since it is Shabbat. Israel announces that they will take steps to protect its citizens, including targeted killings of Hamas terrorists.

March 20 – mortar shells, a kassam rocket, and a Grad rocket fired into Israel. The Grad rocket landed in southern Ashkelon. No injuries reported.

March 22 – mortar shells fired toward IDF soldiers from Gaza. They return fire, killing the terrorists and some civilians in area. Prime Minister apologizes for civilian deaths, but holds Hamas responsible for firing from areas with civilians. Later in evening IDF soldiers spot terror cell preparing to launch rockets, fire at them and kill them.

March 23 – Grad rockets fired in the middle of the night south of Ashdod. Grad rocket fired at 5:30 am into Beersheva, one man injured moderately. Mortars fired into Negev, another Grad rocket fired into Beersheva. Bomb explodes in Jerusalem.

March 24 – kassam rocket hits Negev overnight, no injuries reported. IDF foils attempt at rocket launch by bombing terrorists as they prepare. Kassam hits south of Ashkelon, no injuries. Grad rocket fired into Ofakim, no injuries reported. Rocket fired toward Ashdod. Rocket lands in Rishon LeZion (very close to south Tel-Aviv). Just so they won’t feel neglected, kassam rocket fired into Sderot.

March 26 – Kassam rockets hit western Negev. No injuries, but extensive damage to a house.

March 27th – IDF kills two Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza responsible for rocket fire.

(Wow, on Monday there were no kassam rockets, mortars or Grad rockets fired…!!)

March 29 – kassam rocket fired into Negev.

Oh, Those Nasty Militants

I guess sucking up to Hamas in every one of your articles still doesn’t give you immunity from their brutality. The Jerusalem Post has an interesting article about CNN and Reuters reporters complaining about being beaten by Hamas when they tried to cover protests in Gaza.

Ironically, the protests were in favor of uniting the Hamas and Fatah factions, spearheaded by a Facebook campaign started by Gaza youth.

It is also “ironic” that all of the reporters that were beaten were women. I wonder if this will make waves in the feminist community, which usually turns a blind eye to the reality of fundamentalist Islam and its degrading of women.

March 25 – Israel, This Is Your Life

March 25th, 2011. Today could be described as a slice of life in Israel. I wish I could say that it is an unusual day, and in some ways things are more intense than they have been for a long time, but on the other hand it can unfortunately be described as typical.

The south: Mortar shells were fired into southern Israel last night. The Israeli Airforce hits targets in Gaza. Some school districts are keeping their kids out of school today in protest of the lack of protection. The IDF is facing a very tough decision, worthy of Solomon himself. The Iron Dome defense system is supposedly ready to deploy, but it is not extensive enough to protect all of the places that need it. Where do you set it up then? Which city is more “worthy” of defense? How do you respond to the very practical, if not cold-blooded view, that this system should be used to protect the army installations in the south, so that if, G-d forbid, there is an extensive war soon (a very real possibility) the army bases will be up and running? I have always thought that those in the IDF are heroes, but sometimes this heroism takes different forms. Risking your life in battle to protect others is of course one obvious expression of heroism. Making very tough life and death decisions, and knowing that you will have to live with these decisions later, is another way that our commanders are heroes. (G-d should give them wisdom).

Jerusalem: The wounded from this week’s terrorist attack are recuperating (G-d willing), and their relatives and friends are doing what they can to help them and their families. The police are out in force today in order to secure the Jerusalem marathon, which has been planned of course for more than a year, and is going on as planned, despite the security threats. Meanwhile the Shin Bet (internal intelligence in Israel, versus the Mossad which is the international intelligence service) is continuing its search for the terrorists involved in the bombing earlier this week.

Itamar, Neve Tzuf, and Jerusalem: The relatives of the Fogel family who were murdered two weeks ago in Itamar are trying to do the impossible – get back to everyday life, while mourning their loved ones. The Shin Bet and the IDF are still pursuing the terrorists.

Peduel: March 25 is a Friday, and it is also the 19th of the Hebrew month of Adar II. This means that the Sabbath is coming at the end of the day, and the holiday of Passover is coming in a few weeks. The radio is on, and I have one ear cocked to hear the news (I need to update my running list of attacks in the south, after all). My cholent is cooking on the stove, and the chicken is prepared and ready to put in the oven. I am also starting to clean a bedroom for Passover – doing what Jewish women all over the world do this month, as this religious deadline waits for noone.

Israel, this is your life: preparing for war, recuperating from terrorist attacks, and getting on with normal – Jewish – life.

Visual Aids

With my seemingly endless list of mortar shell, kassam and Grad rocket fire into Israel, I thought I would provide some visual aids so that my readers will know what I am talking about.

Globalsecurity has an overview of the launching of rockets of all types against Israel. If you read far enough (or if you scroll down) you will see a map of Israel and the places that are being hit by the various types of projectiles.

Here are some pictures of kassam rockets (sometimes spelled qassam) waiting to be launched.

Grad projectiles, sometimes called the improved Katyusha, can travel farther than kassam rockets, and are larger.

Slate magazine has an explanation of what a mortar is, in addition to other deadly things here.

The Post Terror Attack Ritual

This sounds terrible, but because of the many terrorist attacks in Israel our response has turned into what I call a ritual.

First, as soon as you hear of the attack, you think of anyone you know that might be in the area of the attack, and you start to phone them. If you are lucky you get right through and you breathe a sigh of relief that they are ok. Immediately afterwards you feel guilty. Why should I be happy when other people have lost their loved ones?

Then you turn on the internet to get as much information as possible, clicking from one site to the other to get the latest news. The numbers are important, the level of injuries are important, and the most important of course are the numbers of dead.

A little while later, you are still attached to the news, and you wait to hear the names of the dead (G-d forbid) and again you are curious to see if you know them. In a country as small as Israel, the chances are pretty good.

Later still you watch the coverage of the funerals. Inevitably you wonder if this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and pushes Israel to undertake an operation against the terrorists.

Slowly the intensity fades. And you forget about terror attacks until the next time, although not completely.

I started saying Tehillim every day about 12 or 13 years ago. I sometimes miss a day, but I always catch up either on Shabbat or the last day of the Hebrew month, and I try to finish the entire book once a month.  I don’t think I would have done this so consistently were it not for the life we live here in Israel.

The joy of living in Israel brings me close to Hashem, and the sense of the fragility of life does the same thing.

Terror Attack in Jerusalem, Grad Rockets In Beersheba Today

A bomb was left near a bus stop in front of Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem and exploded, ironically near a kiosk with the unfortunate name of “Pitzutz shel Kiosk”  (a Blast of a kiosk).  So far one dead, 25 injured, some very seriously, mostly on the two busses stopped there. (It has been awhile since I had to call my relatives to make sure everyone was ok after hearing this kind of news. Not something that I missed).

Last night a Grad rocket was fired toward Ashkelon,  there were mortars fired into the western Negev in the morning, and two separate Grad rockets fired into Beersheva in the morning.

After years of living through periods of terror, I recognize a pattern. First the terrrorists start in a yishuv, then they branch outwards towards the cities. Eventually the IDF undertakes an operation, the terrorists get killed, along with civilians, and we get a period of quiet again.

Light On Our Feet

Israel is the first (outside) country to set up a field hospital in Japan to help with the thousands of injured from the earthquake and tsunami. In addition we are providing aid in the form of mattresses, blankets, coats, gloves and chemical toilets – very practical assistance in light of the fact that thousands are now homeless.

At first I was very puzzled about this. Surely other countries are just as prepared for emergencies as we are, and can offer the same help! So why are we the first?

I think it is a cultural thing. Israelis are sometimes terrible at planning ahead, and we can fight each other about small details when there is no emergency. But when there is an emergency, we are light on our feet. The red tape is cut and things get done. Individuals take the initiative, and they leave the accounting for later.

The Difference Between Lovers of Life and Lovers of Death

The contrast couldn’t be greater. In Neve Tzuf, a yishuv where the relatives of the Fogel family are sitting shiva, the IDF and local residents (yeah, go ahead, call them settlers)saved the life of an Arab woman and her baby girl.

A taxi sped into the yishuv with the woman in labor. The cord was around the baby’s neck and both were in danger. The medics treated her and both are fine.

It is amazing how G-d arranges things. Perhaps many will not pay attention, but to those who do this couldn’t be a greater demonstration of the difference between the Jews and the Arab terrorists.  We love life and protect it whenever we can. The terrorists love death and kill whenever they can.

Please note – the Arabs are so confident and feel so safe with the Jews, that they knew they could go to the settlers for help. Not only don’t they fear retaliation, but they go there freely for assistance. It is a crying shame, that people like this, who know that the Jews are not monsters, cannot express their opinion in Arab society without fear of retaliation from their own people. If they did then perhaps there would be a chance for peace.

It’s Not the Nature, It’s the Nurture

I grew up in a family that taught me not to be racist, and to judge others as individuals. This liberal education served me well, and I adhere to it to this day.

Visiting Israel, and afterwards living here, has taught me an additional lesson though. That lesson is that even if you don’t judge a person by his skin color, or religion, or ethnicity – you do have to take into account the culture that he grew up in, because it may have affected him, to the point where he may be dangerous.

This is why if I find myself waiting for a ride to my yishuv in a place where I am alone with an Arab, I do not necessarily think he will harm me, but I don’t discard the possibility either (and I make sure to be in phone contact with someone else until I am safely away from there).

Palestinian Media Watch has put out a report called “Kill a Jew – Go to Heaven”, which details the incitement that Arabs are exposed to by the Palestinian Authority. I do not know how much this incitement affects every Arab that is exposed to it, although it is hard to imagine how children can ever grow up to think anything else than Jew hatred when it is broadcast to them at every opportunity, including in childrens’s television programming. It does explain, though, how futile it is to try to make peace with the Arabs, when this incitement is allowed to continue.

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