This last weekend was one of terror and death.
From the IDF Spokesperson:
More than 45 mortars and rockets were fired over the past three days from the Gaza Strip at southern Israeli communities including Ashdod (population of over 200,000), Ashkelon (population of 113,000), Gan Yavne (population of 19,000) and Be’er Sheva (population of 195,000), causing light to moderate injuries to at least three people and damaging several buildings, including a school. Moshe Ami, father of four from Ashkelon, was killed from sharpnel wounds.
This was as of Monday. 16 people are in the hospital with wounds, one is a baby.
The Israelis have lost their patience. There are so many rockets, so many attacks a nation can take before they decide to attack back. And they will attack back.
IDF commanders were given the green light by officials in Jerusalem to take all necessary steps to stop rocket fire from Gaza on Tuesday, including undertaking ground operations as need be.
But military officials told the Associated Press, while the decision allowed the IDF to act in accordance with the severity of terror attacks from Gaza, it was unlikely a ground offensive would be ordered without massive rocket fire.
The sudden spike in rocket and mortar attacks on Israel’s southern communities began when terrorists started launching large salvos at Israel over the weakened.
Israel has responded by maintaining its policy of airstrikes-for-rocket-attacks paradigm, which has marked – and maintained – Israel’s poor security situation in the Gaza belt region.
One Israeli civilian and at least 12 Gaza terrorists have been killed in the exchange of fire that began on Saturday.
The IDF says there have been no Israeli airstrikes since around midnight Monday. Two rockets were fired from Gaza during that time.
Amid the exchange Egyptian officials have repeatedly lionized their own diplomatic efforts in recent days to secure ‘Israeli restraint’ in the face of wanton terror attacks on its civilian population.
“In the past few hours, Egypt saved Gaza from severe destruction and succeeded in securing Israeli restraint to give Egyptians time to reach a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian factions,” Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, told the AP.
On Monday, Netanyahu said Israel would have to incorporate an offensive element into its security policies, citing the Talmudic dictum “he who would harm us, his blood is on his head.”
Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev responded to Egyptian claims saying Israel’s position has not changed.
But critics say Netanyahu’s rhetoric is not manifest in his government’s actions, and that the so-called ‘green light’ given to the IDF is meaningless if it doesn’t result in material changes to the strategic paradigm in Israel’s south.
Netanyahu has, thus far, resisted mounting calls from Israeli lawmakers and security experts – Including three former IDF chiefs of staff – to smash Hamas and root out Gaza’s terror infrastructure.
Rocket and mortar attacks have disrupted life in southern Israel. On Tuesday local councils, ignoring IDF assurances the security threat was negligible, closed school for some 200,000 children.
The closure was seen by many observers as symptomatic of a growing loss of public faith in how Israel’s leaders and security officials are handling national security affairs.
Some 1 million Israelis live within range of rockets from Gaza.
Egypt is claiming that a cease-fire is in effect. That is what they claimed all last weekend, yet after a few hours, the rockets start flying. To Hamas, to Islamic Jihad a cease-fire means take a meal break, then reload. I don’t believe that the Israeli people will be able to restrain themselves any longer.
Meanwhile, UNESCO has granted Palestine Fakistine member status. Such a move is in direct violation of the Oslo Accords. Since the Accords are now dead, so are they benefits to the Palestinian Fakistinian Authority.
In a series of retaliatory moves against the Palestinian Authority, Israel on Tuesday night decided to accelerate Jewish construction over the pre-1967 lines and temporarily suspend the transfer of tax funds to the PA.
The PA immediately slammed the two decisions made by the Inner Cabinet, a forum of eight ministers, which had convened for several hours.
Israel’s decision to build new housing units in east Jerusalem and two West Bank settlements will destroy the peace process, the PA warned.
“It’s a blow to the Quartet efforts to achieve peace,” said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The talk about freezing tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority is a provocation and theft of our money,” Rudaineh said. “We call on the Quartet and the US administration to put an end to these practices, which will have a negative impact on the whole region.
The Inner Cabinet’s measures were a direct response to the PA’s continued pursuit of unilateral statehood in favor of a negotiated agreement with Israel.
It issued the punitive steps just one day after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted the Palestinian Authority’s bid to become its 195th member. The PA also plans to request membership in other UN agencies.
Settlement construction has been a hot-button issue for the Palestinians, who have insisted that such building is a stumbling block to peace and that they will not talk with Israel unless it freezes such activity.
Israel has refused to heed this demand. Despite this, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has a poor record of authorizing settler construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
It is unusual for his office – which placed a 10-month moratorium on new settlement building that ended in September 2010 and which has often been accused of imposing a “silent freeze” on Jewish building over the pre- 1967 line – to state upfront that it was “accelerating” such construction.
You cannot demand from the Israeli public continued restraint when the Palestinian leadership continues to slam doors in their face,” said an Israeli official.
“They refuse to condemn the rocket attacks that killed an Israeli citizen [on Saturday].
They praised the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit and have refused to conduct peace negotiations while going for unilateral moves at the United Nations,” the official said.
The building approvals include 1,650 units in east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods, 327 in two West Bank settlements, 277 in Efrat and 50 in Ma’aleh Adumim. All units were already in the planning stages but needed final approvals.
Now according to an Israeli official, “they have been given a green light.” The official noted that all the building would occur in areas that would remain part of Israel in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians.
Separate from the issue of construction, the Inner Cabinet agreed to put a “temporary hold” on the transfer of tax funds to the Palestinian Authority. It also contemplated canceling VIP passes for Palestinian officials which allow them to pass quickly through Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.
No decision was reached on whether Israel would make its annual payment of $2 million to UNESCO.
On Monday, the United States said that it would freeze a $60 million payment to UNESCO scheduled for later this month.
During a tour of the West Bank city of Hebron earlier in the day, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that it would be “strange” to continue to provide the organization with funds when the US has frozen financial support for UNESCO.
But, he said, UNESCO didn’t initiate the Palestinian membership drive. So the primary response should be against those who instigated it, the PA under Abbas’s leadership.
As such, Steinitz said, he had supported withholding tax funds from the Palestinian Authority since the PA began its clear unilateral pursuit of statehood.
“For the last half a year, there has been a Palestinian strategy to make use of their automatic majority in international bodies to gain a state without peace, without security, without ending the conflict and without recognizing the State of Israel,” he said.
“It is a betrayal of the very heart of the peace process. It can not pass silently.”
Steinitz said he rejects claims that withholding funds could cause the collapse of the PA. In the past, under the governments of Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, the funds were frozen and the PA continued, albeit with difficulty.
“No one wants to dismantle the PA,” Steinitz said. “Netanyahu’s government wants to make peace with it.”
“But if it plans to be a state that will be in conflict with Israel, I am not sure that our first interest is to preserve a PA government that could become a hostile state like Gaza,” he said.
Although rumors coming from the PA is that the PLO will dismantle the PA soon. Good that eliminates any treaties Israel would have with the PA. Could be interesting to see the PLO try to get water, or electricity. I hope they can make their own.
It seems that Bibi Netanyahu finally has discovered that he has balls. He is trying to persuade his cabinet the necessity of attacking Iran and taking out their Nuclear Sites.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a “small advantage” in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack.
Netanyahu and Barak recently persuaded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who previously objected to attacking Iran, to support such a move.
Although more than a million Israelis have had to seek shelter during a week of rockets raining down on the south, political leaders have diverted their attention to arguing over a possible war with Iran. Leading ministers were publicly dropping hints on Tuesday that Israeli could attack Iran, although a member of the forum of eight senior ministers said no such decision had been taken.
Senior ministers and diplomats said the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report, due to be released on November 8, will have a decisive effect on the decisions Israel makes.
Sooner or later either Israel will attack Iran or Iran will detonate a nuclear bomb over Tel Aviv. Sometimes Prime Ministers have to make the decision to attack even though they know the world will condemn them. Rabin knew it in 1976 when he sent Israeli commandos to Uganda to rescue Israelis being held hostage. Begin knew it in 1981 when the IAF destroyed the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor at Osirik. Now Netanyahu needs to make the hard decision and order the attack on Iran. The world will condemn Israel, Obama will probably not use the veto in the Security Council, but the people of Israel will be safer. And so will the people of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc…