[Adapted from the March 29, 2019 MidEast News Brief Podcast]
A Recap of the Dispute in Gaza this Week
At 5:20am Monday, March 25, 2019, Israeli time, rocket sirens sounded when a long range J80 rocket was fired by Hamas operatives from the city of Rafa in the Gaza Strip, which is basically on the border of Gaza and Egypt, into Israel. Where in Israel? Some close by border town? Sderot? Ashdod? Be’er Sheva? No… it was fired, and get this, according to Hamas operatives it was fired “accidentally,” (we can, of course, take blood-spilling terrorists at their word) all the way North of Tel Aviv, 120 kilometers away, directly hitting the home of a family of seven in the community of Mishmeret, and catching the home on fire and destroying it. Fortunately no one was killed in the “accidental” attack, however, seven were treated for injuries, neighbors were understandably being treated for shock, and they even found four dogs dead at the site.
Regarding the elections, things have heated up between the two sides. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his speech at AIPAC and returned home following his meeting with President Trump who officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Israel has responded forcefully to the attack, although they have refrained from turning it into an all-out war. They began pounding Gaza with targeted air strikes specifically in Khan Younis, which if you’re looking at the Gaza Strip is in the bottom third of Gaza, hitting a military base and a weapons manufacturing site as well as other sites apparently. Soon after those Israeli strikes finished, the Hamas terrorist sent a rocket screaming to the Israeli city of Ashkelon, but it did not hurt anyone or damage any property.
Overall about sixty rockets were fired from Gaza into Southern Israel Tuesday evening as well.
Other targets were struck as well. I hope that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh did not do much redecorating lately because his office was obliterated by the IDF. Also, they also decimated military compounds, an office used for military meetings, tunnel shafts for the purpose of moving weapons, rocket launching positions. They also apparently leveled the building Hamas uses as a secret headquarters, it’s a three story building that houses their security and intelligence divisions. So, Israel has been busy striking back.
The IDF even released pictures of the ongoing operation before the strike and after the strike, and the before and after shots cannot be more inimical. A building is standing, and then building has disappeared, foundation and all.
Netanyahu arrived in Israel on Wednesday and here’s what he said, per the Jerusalem post, “We responded with great force… In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago.”
He is, of course, referring to the 2014 Israeli Operation Protective Edge when, once again, Hamas fired rockets at Israel, and Israel responded by protecting itself by attacking Hamas.
So while all of this was going on the United Nations and Egypt were attempting a diplomatic solution to the problem on Wednesday, and Hamas basically said they were calling a ceasefire. The IDF responded that no ceasefire was reached and that the fighting could continue at any time. The Egyptian delegation then took the results of their talks to Israel for a meeting on Thursday. For their part, they are attempting to broker peace but it’s kind of like attempting to have peace talks with a hornet’s nest. They are extremely aggressive and cannot be reasoned with.
And of course amidst all of this everyone running against Netanyahu wants to make him look like a buffoon because they would love to defeat him in the upcoming April 9 elections! There are a lot of calls for all-out war with Hamas in the midst of the political wrangling. It’s hard for me personally to have an opinion on this because I am not a military expert and I am not there, plain and simple. However, speaking as a civilian who follows this conflict, there are a few things I would note.
- Hamas is an enemy state at its border constantly launching rockets on civilians indiscriminately. This includes pregnant mothers and babies.
- When a state acts belligerently and attacks another state the state under attack has a right to respond. And no, they do not have to respond “proportionally,” that’s an idiotic standard made up by the leftist press to demonize Israel. You respond with as much force as is necessary to win the conflict while minimizing as many civilian casualties as possible.
- Israel also has to think about its neighbors on its Northern border. Hezbollah is camped out at the Lebanon-Israeli border, not to mention terrorists in the Golan, which is sovereign Israeli territory. You have all kinds of bad actors in Syria and Iran wanting to take Israel out. So, if Netanyahu takes the bait, it could tie up forces that won’t be able to fully confront other threats.
All of that to say it is simply not an easy decision. I’m not saying Netanyahu is making the right decision in what he’s currently doing, which so far is not a full scale Gaza invasion, I’m saying it’s pretty nuanced and not always as cut and dry as we might think.
And remember, Israel has to be very careful about striking Gaza. Hamas is more than obliged to use its own people as human shields and they’ve proven this over and over again. So, Israel has to fronts it faces:
1. The moral front, where they limit as many human casualties as possible and
2. The PR front, where the international press is going to jump on any mistake they can as well as make Israel look awful in general. You saw this in Operation Protective Edge when the New York Times had a constant ticker of how many Gazans died ve0rse how many Israelis died, and the connotation was that since a lot more Gazans died, therefore Israel is the evil nation and Gaza is the poor, hurting nation that just wants to not be in poverty. Of course, that’s ludicrous, given that, once again, they began the conflict and Israel countered with blow after blow after blow attempting to weaken the terrorist regime. They, of course, fired rockets next to hospitals, used their own people as human shields, hid arms beneath the schools, to name a few. Had Israel done anything like Hamas they would have been relentless against them in the international media.
So where are we now? As of this writing, a few things are developing. Yesterday Netanyahu visited the situation on the ground at the Gaza border to assess the situation. Soldiers, tanks, and even reservists have been called up and are surrounding the border. And then later that night, which was last night, Thursday night, Gazan protestors have thrown approximately 500 explosive devices at the IDF. What those explosive devices are is not exactly clear, but apparently, no massive military operations are happening as a result.
And, to make it even more interesting Palestinians are calling for mass border protests on the Gaza border. Why you ask, are they doing this? Well, Saturday is apparently now a holiday. No, we’re not talking Christmas or Easter here. This Saturday, March 30, marks the 1 year anniversary of the “Great March of Return,” where Arabs protest Israel annexing land in 1976 in the Galilee region of Northern Israel. It’s Land Day.
Apparently, Arabs are already trickling in for protest and I do not know what to expect fully expect other than the usual rioting, attacks, and unnecessary Arab and Israeli deaths. I will continue following these developments and will provide another full recap on next Friday’s MidEast News Brief Podcast.
Rocket Sirens Heard in Kfar Saba Area
Netanyahu to Skip US Speech as Rockets Continue to Hit Israel
IDF Releases Images of Its Actions in Gaza Following Rocket Attacks
Gaza border violence erupts with 500 explosive devices thrown at IDF