In War, Less is More

The news analysts are having a field day trying to decide if we won, lost, or tied with Hamas after the latest operation/war. Some are very clear in their opinion and some hedge their bets by claiming that we won’t be able to tell if the operation was successful until we see how much time it takes Hamas to start up again – pointing out, correctly, that after the Second Lebanon War everyone was sure that Hizbollah was not crushed and would start firing rockets at Israel soon after. The fact that it has been quiet in the north for more than eight years seems to point out that the war in Lebanon was a success after all.

I have my own opinion (I think that this war was conducted perfectly) but instead of a long post detailing everything I want to make a few points.

The wars that Israel fights usually don’t end like they do in the movies, where the bad guys get smacked down dramatically and everyone feels great at the end. Especially when dealing with terrorist groups, these things last a long time. The fighting goes in stages and can last for decades. Those claiming that this war was a failure because there was no “victory image” have an unrealistic view of what life is like here.

This time around the IDF fought differently, and these differences will add to Israel’s overally security.

1. The Israel Air Force did not hesitate to bomb places where rockets were being launched, even in civilian areas. When Hamas launched rockets from mosques and schools the IAF bombed them – and guess what? The sky did not fall down. Even after the UN and the President of the United States got angry about it – the IAF continued.

2. The Israel Air Force bombed houses where the terrorist leaders were hiding – even if it meant that innocent civilians got killed, and again, there were no dire consequences to Israel. Hamas will need to take these two points into consideration and know that their human shields were not very protective after all.

3. The IDF only sent in their ground forces to do what could only be done on the ground – namely destroying tunnels. Then these forces were taken out. Despite the public pressure to go in and “finish Hamas off”, our leaders fought with their heads and not their hearts – and they saved a lot of soldiers’ lives, and they avoided what Hamas wanted more than anything – Israeli soldiers in captivity.

When the dust clears, and people calm down, our “victory” will become much more apparent. Hamas brought on destruction and death to their people, and it will take years to rebuild. Those who are funding the rockets will need to ask themselves if it is worth it to spend millions of dollars on rockets that don’t hit their targets. Those building the tunnels will know that Israel knows about them and is working on technology to detect them earlier. (Not to mention an interesting fact about tunnels – that they literally go both ways. I am sure there are tunnels that the IDS knows about that they can use for Special Forces to go into Gaza. Look for more “Gaza work accidents in tunnels” in the future.)

A last point: The disengagement happened nine years ago. Except for the seriously right wing, everyone else in the country agreed to rip 10,000 Jews from their homes. Most said that they wanted to “give peace a chance”, but the real underlying reason was that they did not want their husbands and sons to have to serve in Gaza and risk being killed by the terrorists there. Most of the people in the country still feel the same way.

Those who live in the south under rocket fire are complaining about the fact that their security is being sacrificed every few years, and it is intolerable. I agree with them – but I also understand the politicians who are reluctant to use the IDF to take over the Gaza strip again. Most Israelis do not want the IDF to take over Gaza. Until they change their minds – the people in the south will suffer. On the other hand, you can’t blame the government for this. They are only doing what the people expect.


Got Him!

The Israeli Air Force is on its toes as usual. Earlier this afternoon it downed a drone sent from the north of the coast of Haifa. The navy is now looking for the wreckage.

It is interesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu was in a helicopter on his way up north at the time of the sighting of the drone, and they landed until the drone was destroyed.

It seems that the IDF is very alert, given the craziness going on in Syria.

They Are Very Afraid

The religous Zionist segment of Israeli society is disproportinately represented in the officer’s corps in the IDF. We comprise approximately 12% of Israeli society, but 35% of the officers in the IDF wear the knitted kippa (skullcap).

This disproportion is very frightening to some secular Israelis, especially in academia – so much so that it has been studied. Israel HaYom has an interesting article about this topic, which is essentially a book review of a collection of essays.

The essays are written from various viewpoints. I find it ironic that those who are most frightened of the fact that so many national religious young men are now officers are mistaken about the viewpoints held by these officers. They assume, wrongly, that those national religious soldiers hold views that are, for want of a better term “extremely right wing” concerning future borders of Israel, and that these viewpoints will seriously affect how they act in the army.

Perhaps it is all relative, but from my experience I see that the men in the national religious camp that are extremely right wing either do not serve at all, or serve for a very short time, and are most certainly not the ones who go on to become officers. They usually sit and learn in yeshiva, and do the minimum of army required by the hesder program (14 months, versus the committment to three full years for officers).

The religious men who do go on to become officers are committed to the army for the best of reasons, and with the guidance of their rabbis serve to the best of their ability while following the halacha. For the most part their motivation for being in the army in general and their desire to be officers in particular comes from an overarching ideal – that of serving Klal Yisrael and protecting their fellow Jews. This ideal then makes it easier for them to perhaps follow a more lenient interpretation on some halachic issues where others would take a more stricter view.

Therefore the fear by many in the secular camp in Israel about the national religious in the army is misplaced and completely blown out of proportion. It comes from not understanding the nuances of a different sector of the country.

The Security Threat in Israel Never Stops

The security threat to Israel never stops. Keeping an eye on what is happening in Syria, Israel has deployed two more Iron Dome systems in the north. There is concern about the chemical weapons being given to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli sources have “confirmed” that there was a blast at a nuclear facility in Iran. The Israeli government never takes responsibility for these blasts, but Avi Dichter’s comment is telling. Above and beyond what is actually happening in Iran, there is a lot of psychological operations going on with the press as facilitator.

Meanwhile the IDF is busy protecting Israel by finding terrorists before they take action. They caught two terrorists who had planned on carrying out an attack in Elon Moreh.

One ironic note: a journalist on the radio here just complained that even when the Israeli public votes in a party that primarily concerns itself with domestic issues, the security situation rears its head and takes over the headlines. As I wrote before, there really is no chance for a “central” party to gain the most votes and form the coalition, precisely for this reason. Security will always be the main issue here in Israel. Domestic issues come to the fore when the government (right wing, usually) takes care of the security issues to the point where they are on the back burner. But security issues are always important, and they never completely go away. We don’t live in Switzerland, after all.

A Tribute to Our Soldiers

I would like to share this beautiful tribute to the IDF soldiers that I found on the IDF Facebook page. My two younger sons are now in the process of going through the various tests to figure out where they want to serve, so this is becoming more and more relevant to our family.  Enjoy!

Woman Stabbed by Infiltrator from Gaza

A woman living in a moshav very near the Gaza border was stabbed early this morning by a man who broke through the fence surrounding Gaza. He broke into her home at 4am and fled the scene when the woman fought back. The IDF killed him after finding him in a nearby greenhouse. Thank G-d the woman was only hurt lightly.

I think it will take a while before things settle down in the south of Israel.

Terrorist Who Planted Bomb On Bus in Tel Aviv is Caught

The terrorist who planted the bomb on the bus that blew up in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was caught just hours afterwards. The Shin Bet, Israeli police and the IDF worked together and found the man as he was trying to cross a checkpoint. The man is an Arab that previously lived in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria), but was allowed to receive an Israeli identity card due to the “family unification law”. This law, which the right opposes and the left promoted, says that Arabs from Yehuda and Shomron can go to live in the pre-1967 borders of Israel if he or she marries someone who lives there, and they receive an identity card which lets them travel within Israel without being stopped.

The right opposes the law precisely for this reason. There is always a fear that someone like the terrorist will use the identity card to travel freely and will carry out a terrorist attack. I wonder if after the next election we can have the law changed back.

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….

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.

IAF Attacking Gaza Targets

The IAF is attacking targets in Gaza now. There are reports of multiple attacks at once – the Arabic press is calling it a “blitz”. The IDF spokesman promised the terrorists in Gaza that they would not have a quiet night, and I guess he is keeping his word. The IDF has already called up reserve soldiers, and has permission to call up an additional 30,000 troops.

Meanwhile Haniye is hiding in some bunker somewhere, along with the other Hamas terrorists. One of the targets just hit is supposedly Haniye’s house.

The Next War in Israel is Here

Update: My husband saw a number of our neighbors in IDF uniforms at the usual morning prayers this morning. These men are in their forties and have serious roles in the army. A sign that this time it is war.

The next war in Israel is here. Two signs that things are different this time around (versus the “usual” IAF attacks on targets in Gaza after rockets are fired into Israel): one, the IDF has called it an operation, and gave it a name – Pillar of Defense (in Hebrew, Amud HaAnan, referring to the biblical pillar of fire that attended the people of Israel when they wandered in the desert. This is a marked change from the purely secular names chosen in the past). Two, the IDF has approved a call up of reserve duty soldiers.

The IAF took out a major terrorist in Gaza yesterday – the Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. Rockets were fired from the time of the assasination yesterday afternoon and continued all night and continue even now. School has been closed in all areas within 40 kilometers of Gaza. In places that are within four kilometers of Gaza the public has been requested to stay home from work and stay away from the malls and other public places.

I have heard now on the radio that thousands of police are being deployed across Israel to increase defense against possible terrorist attacks, and there is a closure of Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria). This means that Arabs from these areas will not be allowed into other parts of Israel to work.

I’ll be updating throughout the day.

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