The Simple Truth

The following video sums up the situation in Israel regarding terrorism. Simple, but true!

Seeing the Big Picture

There are a lot of frustrated people in Israel today. There are also a lot of relieved people in Israel today. Some are even willing to admit that they are both.

The frustrated people think that the ceasefire with Hamas will not be long term, and that we have not solved the problem in Gaza. They think that by refusing to go in on the ground and fight Hamas now that we are just kicking the can down the road.

If you look at Israel and frame the problem only by looking at the security threat on its southern border – they would be right. The problem has not been solved and Hamas will eventually break the ceasefire and start shooting rockets at the south again.

Unfortunately, in Israel, the security problems we have are not limited to just our southern border. We are surrounded by enemies on all of our borders, and we have an arch-enemy in the form of a genocidal maniac who is trying to get nuclear weapons. We are a feisty and courageous people who have a deep faith in G-d and believe that He will save us from our enemies. At the same time we cannot rely on miracles and we must use our G-d given intellectual capabilities to look at the map clearly. It would be foolish to put ourselves in a position where we need to fight on all fronts at once. Destroying most of the rockets held in Gaza, and killing key operatives there has gained us some quiet in the south. If we go after Iran, and Iran’s proxies in the form of Hizbullah in the north start to fire rockets from there, it will be easier to fight on two fronts rather than three. The fact that the terrorists will try to send out suicide bombers to our cities and enact terrorist attacks in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria) – both of which happened in the past few days – shows that we always have the additional “central”  front to worry about.

Politically we are not an island either. I do not believe that Israel should give in to pressure from any other country against its own best interests. On the other hand, there is no reason not to manipulate events so that we are in a win/win situation. Manipulating Egypt into being responsible for what Hamas does, by using the United States’s pressure on them in terms of their financial aid, was a smart move. Using the social media in addition to the regular media in order to explain our situation in Israel, and framing the security threat in terms of “what would your country do?” was brilliant and long overdue. Stopping the operation when the international community was on our side was smart. You sometimes need to build up goodwill so that you can cash in on it later. Now is the time to deposit – if we are attacked on all sides it will be time to cash in.

Another aspect to the situation is the internal political one. We Jews pull together when we are threatened – but unfortunately this unity does not last long. In order for everyone to “be on the same page” a military operation has to be relatively quick. Going into a ground war with terrorists, who would hide behind civilians, would not be quick. The only time an Israeli politician would do something like that would be soon after the elections, and with a huge mandate from the people. This is not the situation now.

There are many people in Israel who are relieved now. Noone wants to see their husband and sons go into a war – especially one that is lopsided. We know that we will not indiscriminately bomb the people in Gaza, as this is not our way, and in my opinion shouldn’t be our way. Most of the people who say “just flatten the place” are not the ones who will fire the bombs to do it, and are not the ones who will need to live with themselves afterwards. This leaves us with the unsavory option of an urban war, which is much more dangerous for our soldiers.

Unfortunately, our enemies never really give up. We will always need to fight them – and there really is no such thing as “zbang v’gamarnu” – Hebrew slang for “one big smack and then we are done”. We are always kicking the can down the road in Israel. It is better to do it when you have something to show for it than when you have been beaten. Those frustrated Israelis who want to go in and fight – will have another chance.

Waiting to See if the Ceasefire Holds

There was an announcement last night about a ceasefire between Israel and the terrorists in Gaza. The reality on the ground is that we in Israel are waiting to see if it holds. Schools in the south within 40 kilometers of Gaza are still closed. Most of the reserve soldiers are still on duty – a few have been sent home with the proviso that they can be called up any second again.

The analyists, both military and political, are of course expressing their opinion in the media. I have my own take on what happened this past week and what it means, but I am not going to write about it yet. We need to see how the next few days play out. I can say that in general there are a lot of frustrated men in Israel (who wanted to go in and fight the Hamas terrorists) and there are a lot of relieved women in Israel (who, although they agree that you need to fight Hamas, are happy to think that their husbands and sons are not needed to fight a war now).

 

Hamas Lies

Don’t believe everything you read in the papers – especially from Hamas. Here are a series of videos with a list of their lies:

Terrorist Attack on Bus in Tel Aviv – and Rockets Continue to Be Fired

1:50 pm: Sirens sounding in Beersheba. Rockets fell in open areas – no injuries.

1:25 pm: Sirens sounding in communities around the Gaza border. The people in Gaza are celebrating in the streets in reaction to the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. The mosques are announcing the attack to everyone using their pr system.

1:06 pm: Sirens sounding again in the communities around the Gaza border.

There was a terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv at 12:05 pm. There are at least 10 casualties, at least three in critical condition. The bus was on Shaul HaMelech street, which is a major thoroughfare.

It seems that a person went onto the bus, left a bomb, and left the bus. The police are looking for this person in the city.

Hamas is happy with the news of this attack, and calls it a “natural reaction” to what is happening in Gaza.

Why Are The Number of Israeli Casualties So Low?

The IDF spokesman’s blog asks the question, whey are the number of Israeli casualties so low – and answers here. The short version, we have the Iron Dome System that destroys some of the rockets before they fall, and the people have access to bomb shelters – either in their homes (the safe room, or mamad in Israeli slang) or in public shelters in their apartment buildings.

The long version of this answer is our society and its values. We Jews value life above (practically) all else. We use our human and physical resources in order to do whatever we can to save lives. We use our superior technologies to help us survive. Unfortunately we have had a lot of experience in warfare and defending the homefront, and we try to learn from every war. The fact that we have safe rooms in houses came about as a reaction to the Gulf War in 1991. After that war a law was passed that every new residence was required to have a safe room built into it. These safe rooms have literally saved thousands of lives, just in the past week.

The IDF youtube site has a short video showing the incredible damage to an apartment in Rishon LeZion hit yesterday, and at the end it shows how the safe room is completely intact.

Update Pillar of Defense, November 21

12:06 pm: Explosion in a bus in Tel Aviv – apparently a terrorist attack. The bus was on Shaul HaMelech street.

11:20 am: Sirens in Ashkelon and Gadera.

10:17 am: Sirens sounding in Kiryat Melachi, communities around Gaza. A rocket fell in Beer Tuvia directly on a house, thank G-d no casualties.

10:05 am: Rockets fell near Beersheba. No injuries reported.

9:59 am: Sirens in Ashkelon and communities around Gaza.

9:41 am: Sirens in Ashkelon and Beersheba and communities around the Gaza border.

Reporters – stay away from Hamas. They will use you as human shields. They already use your buildings as bases for their operations. The Israel Air Force will target Hamas and not you, if they can, but if I were you I wouldn’t take any chances….

9:07 am: Sirens sounding in communities around the Gaza border and Kiryat Melachi.

9:00 am: Rockets fired at Shaar HaNegev.

8:46 am: Rockets fired toward Ashkelon, three intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

No ceasefire has been reached. The rockets continue to be fired from Gaza towards Israel, and the Israel Airforce is hitting targets in Gaza. Schools in the areas 40 kilometers from Gaza are still closed. In Rishon LeZion, a suburb of Tel Aviv, some schools are closed today and some open. Yesterday Rishon LeZion had their first rocket attack – an aparment on the top floor was almost completely destroyed. Thank G-d the people living there went into their safe room when the siren sounded and they were saved.

Update Pillar of Defense – November 20, Afternoon

10:00 pm: As of now there is no ceasefire agreement. The IAF is hitting targets in Gaza and the IDF is using artillery to supplement the air force.

8:52 pm: The IDF spokesman blog is reporting that Hamas is urging the citizens in the northern part of Gaza to ignore the IDF warnings to evacuate the area before an IDF ground operation. I guess they will miss their human shields….http://www.idfblog.com/2012/11/20/hamas-spokesman-urges-palestinian-civilians-to-ignore-idf-warnings/

8:37 pm: Barzilai Hospital has moved many of their patients to underground facilities, specially built for this type of situation.

8:34 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon.

8:29 pm: Terrorist attack near Beitar Ilit – an elderly woman is found seriously wounded in her car. It seems that she was attacked by stone throwers.

8:19 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashkelon and communities around the Gaza border.

8:16 pm: Released for publication – a soldier was killed by a rocket in the Eshkol region.

7:17 pm: Sirens in Beersheba, and communities around the Gaza border.

Just to give some perspective, today alone over 300 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. In addition to the rockets, Arabs rioted in various places in Judea and Samaria, especially in Hebron.

7:12 pm: Sirens sounding in Ashdod, Beersheba and communities near the Gaza border.

6:55 pm: The head of the Homefront command has stated that the Israeli public should continue to follow the rules of conduct during an air raid siren and go to the safe rooms, and he specifically said that talk of a ceasefire does not change this.

6:25 pm: There is a lot of confusion here in Israel. There is talk about a ceasefire, but the IAF has dropped leaflets in the northern part of Gaza warning the citizens to leave as the IDF will be invading soon. They are listening to the warnings and leaving en masse toward the south. Meanwhile the rockets are still being fired from Gaza and people are being hurt.

6:08 pm: Rocket hits in Ashkelon, at least one injured seriously. Rocket falls on a building Rishon LeZion (suburb of Tel Aviv). Rockets were taken out near Ashdod.

6:00 pm: The rockets keep being fired from Gaza, but there is talk about a ceasefire that will be in effect starting tonight. The only problem is that Israel has not confirmed this.

3:27 pm: The IDF is reporting that the Hamas terrorists who fired the rocket toward Jerusalem earlier were now killed by an attack by the IAF.

Update – Pillar of Defense November 20

3:24 pm: Sirens sounding again in the communities close to the Gaza border.

3:15 pm: Sirens sounding in areas around Gaza. Reshet Bet (Radio 2) is trying to lift morale by playing upbeat Israeli songs, and they keep getting interrupted by warnings of rockets falling. The radio host has said that this has been the most surreal broadcast he has ever done.

3:07 pm: The IAF is conducting a major attack on Gaza now, destroying rocket storage sites.

2:51 pm: Sirens again in Jerusalem.

2:38 pm: A person is seriously injured in the Eshkol region. Sirens sounding now in areas around Gaza, Ofakim.

2:23 pm: Sirens sounded in Jerusalem and in our yishuv northwest of Jerusalem. I went directly to my safe room and waited the requisite 10 minutes. A rocket fell in an open area not in Jerusalem. It seems that the rocket fell in the Gush Etzion region.

1:05 pm: Rocket hits a building in Sderot.

12:53 pm: Sirens sounding in Netivot.

12:41 pm: Sirens sounding in areas very close to Gaza, including Sderot.

The southern cities in Israel had a very hard night with many rockets landing. This morning the rocket barrage continued, with Beersheba receiving the brunt of the rocket attacks. An army officer in a base near the Gaza border was injured by shrapnel and taken to a hospital. In addition, a person tried to force his way into the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and was overpowered. The incident is being investigated.

The IAF is attacking many Hamas positions in Gaza, aiming at Hamas operatives.

There is still talk of a cease fire agreement, but no hard news. The IDF is poised to go for a ground offensive, but has not received the order yet.

Mothers and Children Under Threat

How would you feel if these were your children?

Girl with drawing in Hebrew “Please stop the rockets”

Boys taking cover during rocket attack

Families taking shelter in Ashkelon during rocket fire

Mother and child taking cover in a cement pipe when rockets are falling

A mother protects her children during a rocket attack in Tel Aviv, November 18

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