Seems that there have been rocket firings every couple of days from Gaza. The latest was yesterday (in Israel – 8/11/11). But this has been going on for a while. They are being shot mostly into the “Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council” which is the administrative area that includes Sderot. They have been sporadic, and since the area is quite sparsely populated, usually have done little harm. However, last week, after rockets landed near Ashkelon and Sderot, the IAF retaliated with several strikes in Northern Gaza. I learned about the attacks live while I was monitoring #J14 on Twitter. #J14 is the Twitter hashtag for the so-called July 14th demonstrations in Israel. (If folks out there are not on Twitter, but would be interested in finding out why I think it is by far the best medium for getting news and commentary, please leave me a comment below. I would be happy to post a blog on why I feel that way and how I use Twitter). It isn’t clear who is firing the rockets (that is, even though Hamas controls Gaza, there are still multiple rouge factions within Hamas – several of whom are far more violent than the main governing organization), or why. With the serious domestic turmoil that is going on throughout Israel, if these provocations lead to a major military action against Gaza, it will probably actually strengthen the current government. Nothing pulls together a country like a good ol’ war.
Anyhow – here are some recent Jerusalem Post posts which provide a flavor of what is going on in the south:
08/11/2011 21:01 Kassam from Gaza lands in Sha’ar Hanegev council; none hurt
08/07/2011 20:35 Kassam lands in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council; no injured
08/03/2011 11:25 Kassam explodes in Ashkelon, no injuries reported
8/1/2011 11:11 PM IAF strikes several Gaza targets following Kassam attack
Air Force action comes in response to Kassam rocket fired at southern Israel, moderately injuring a woman in her fifties.
8/1/2011 10:59 PM Kassam explodes near Ashkelon, 1 moderately injured
7/31/2011 3:17 PM Two Kassams from Gaza land in Israel; no injuries reported
7/28/2011 7:46 AM Kassam explodes south of Ashkelon; no injuries or damage
This is clearly terrorism – drip by drip. But let’s be clear. It is not: “thousands of rockets raining down on Israel”. It is not meant to damage property or kill people per se. Rather, it is meant to instill fear and fray nerves because the possiblity of death is very real. Nevertheless, at it’s heart, it is really psychological warfare.
But let’s also be clear: there are indeed 40,000 rockets on the other side of the security fence that would cause widespread death and destruction if used. Let’s hope, for the sake of both sides, that they never are.
- Israel: Another day, another rocket fired from Gaza (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Fire from Gaza intensifies as three mortars hit southern Israel (via Newsessentials Blog) (thechristiangazette.wordpress.com)
Could The Domestic Social Protests in Israel Be The Greatest Impetus for Moving Towards a Two State Solution?
With all of the emphasis (and rightly so) on the domestic economic and political crises here in the U.S. , it may be lost on people that there are huge (and growing) demonstrations against Israeli government social policy going on in Israel virtually as we speak. Reports are that Saturday night there were 300-350,000 people in the streets. As Dimi Reider and Azziz Abu Sarah, wrote in an op-ed published last Wednesday,
The protests that are paralyzing Israel began on July 14, when a few professionals in their 20s decided they could no longer tolerate the city’s uncontrolled rents, and pitched six tents at the top of the city’s most elegant street, Rothschild Boulevard. Three weeks later, the six tents have swelled to over 400, and more than 40 similar encampments have spread across the country, forming unlikely alliances between gay activists and yeshiva students, corporate lawyers and the homeless and ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs.
So far, the protesters have managed to remain apolitical, refusing to declare support for any leader or to be hijacked by any political party. But there is one issue conspicuously missing from the protests: Israel’s 44-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, [emphasis added] which exacts a heavy price on the state budget and is directly related to the lack of affordable housing within Israel proper…
Had the protesters begun by hoisting signs against the occupation, they would most likely still be just a few people in tents. By removing the single most divisive issue in Israeli politics, the protesters have created a safe space for Israelis of all ethnic, national and class identities to act together. And by decidedly placing the occupation outside of the debate, the protesters have neutralized much of the fear-mongering traditionally employed in Israel to silence discussions of social issues…
If the protests continue to stir more and more Israelis out of their political despondency, Mr. Netanyahu still holds two possible trump cards: a sudden breakthrough in the negotiations to free the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive in Gaza, or a sudden escalation of armed conflict.
Moreover, the impending United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood in September imposes a deadline of sorts on the protesters. If Palestinians react by marching on Israeli army checkpoints to demand freedom, Israeli protesters will have to choose between losing internal support by siding with the Palestinians, or abandoning any claim of a pro-democracy agenda by siding with the Israeli soldiers charged with suppressing them.
Interestingly, It didn’t get much press reporting here in the U.S., but the night after this op-ed was published, the Israel Air Force conducted several bombing raids in northern Gaza. However, unless Bibi has some pull with Hamas that nobody is aware of, this was a legitimate (in Israeli terms) response to several rockets that had been launched at Ashkelon and Sderot the previous day. Obviously, from Didi and Azziz’ point of view, whoever fired these rockets (not necessarily the Hamas government itself – there are various factions both within and outside of Hamas which hold varying degree of militancy) played directly into the hands of Netanyahu by providing a pretext for this military action which could potentially take the spotlight off of the domestic protests. For now, the raids have not the averted the attention of the demonstrators – as shown by the fact that the largest turnout yet was on Saturday night.
Bibi finally began to react to the protestors this week with new proposals for more government subsidies for housing and new building. But the protestors don’t seem to be buying that and Bibi is trying desperately day-by-day to get the situation under control.
So, we will just have to watch and see what happens. Certainly, one eventual outcome could be the fall of the current government. And that is what this post’s title refers to is just that. If the government does fall – though it might be based solely on domestic issues – it might well be replaced with a new government that at the same time makes a significant change in Israel’s foreign policy. They might really understand the dangers inherent in the status quo, and do everything possible to make a two state solution happen.
- Israel’s middle class launches mass protest at rising cost of living (rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com)
Not much time here, so here is a short list of events – with no attempt to prioritize:
1. Syria – Tanks rolling into Hama to violently put down civilian rebellion
2. Israel – Protests in the streets re: housing, etc and other, mostly economic, issues. Tent city (Twitter: #tent48) in Tel Aviv
3. Israel – Settlers disrupt protests by engaging protestors with slurs and obscenities (#j14)
4. Israel – Gaza fires missiles into Southern Israel (Sderot & Ashkelon) – luckily only minor injuries
|An Iron Dome missile outside Ashkelon responding to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip in April 2011.|
|Photo by: AFP|
5. Gaza – Just minutes ago, Israel retaliates with large bombing raid on Gaza. Early reports are a couple of children injured
|A Palestinian man walking at a destroyed beach front facility in Gaza City on February 24, 2011 following an Israeli air strike the previous night.|
|Photo by: AFP|
6. Israel – Knesset continues to move to the right with its legislation – anti-boycott law, proposals to reduce rights of Israeli-Arabs, etc.
7. Palestine – Meeting last night to finalize plans to appeal to the UN for recognition
8. Lebanon – Hezbollah rattling sabres
9. Egypt – Mubarak going on trial
|Visceral anger at Mubarak and his inner circle helped unite Tahrir Square during Egypt’s 18-day uprising [EPA]|
10. Libya – Fighting drags on
11. Iran – Announces new missile a few weeks ago
Raouf Mohseni/AP – Iranian revolutionary Guards personnel watch the launch of a Zelzal missile during military maneuvers outside the city of Qom on Tuesday.
Other than that, not much going on…
- Israel: July 14th Movement, Arab Spring in Tel Aviv (arabisperatirugativaptiugoslavii.wordpress.com)
- Israel’s biggest protest in decades overlooked worldwide (rt.com)