We Need to Be Vigilant on All Fronts

Ron Ben Yishai writes an excellent anyalysis of the war in Gaza. He makes a lot of good points, and says that we need patience and endurance and that we will eventually beat the terrorists in Gaza.

Another point that I think is important when judging our success or failure in Gaza is the very concrete reality that we in Israel have to be vigilant on many fronts. We are literally surrounded by enemies and need to be able to “pivot” to face more than one enemy at a time. It is dangerous for us to committ too many troops in one place for too long.

The defense ministry is now concerned about the threat to Israel by Islamic fanatics in Syria. We need to be able to fight up north if need be, and it is a good thing that we don’t have troops fighting a ground war in Gaza.


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.

Great New Song to Lift Your Spirits

I saw this on Facebook (thanks Rafi) and I thought I would share it with everyone. As I wrote, this makes you cry and smile at the same time, which sums up Jewish life in Israel.


Time for a Breather

It is erev Shabbat and the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has been broken. The IAF is hitting some targets in Gaza but it seems minor. I think that we are taking a bit of a breather and perhaps there are those behind the scenes trying to get Hamas to lower their expectations.

By motzei Shabbat we should have a clearer picture of where the war is going.

Personally, the soldiers I know of are now home for a much needed break, letting their mothers and wives spoil them and getting some sleep.

Closer to home, in the midst of this war, the military court finally decided to put my Chabad son in prison for a month. He will get out around Rosh Chodesh Elul and then start his regular army service (and hopefully a more normal married life with his new bride). We consider this to be a good verdict as the prosecution wanted him in prison for six months.

I may have some interesting things to write about as a mother of a Charedi soldier in the IDF (and a mother of two Dati Leumi sons in yeshiva and preparing their own army service in the IDF.)

For now the Gaza war is in the forefront. I hope the soldiers do not have to go in again to fight, but I am continuing my tehillim in any case.

Shabbat Shalom and we should only hear good news.

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.

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