From Israel “Now How About This!!”

In my last posting, I indicted that we were waiting for the attack from Islamic Jihad in retaliation for our having taken out their three commanders.  Almost immediately after I put it out, that attack commenced.  I doubt that any of my readers are unaware of this.

Now I write with an update, before Shabbat comes in.  There is a reasonable chance that the situation will shift again between the time this posting goes out and the end of Shabbat, after which I will post again.


In brief, there have been periods of quiet, at one point a full eight hours, interspersed with periods of IJ rocket launchings and Israeli retaliation.

Here we see the Iron Dome taking out rockets launched from Gaza:

Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP


In a number of respects, I find myself pleased, for a different tone has been set.  The terror forces are not calling the shots this time. That is in particular with regard to a ceasefire. Time after frustrating time, when we have dealt with terror elements in Gaza, we have been too quick to negotiate that ceasefire.  This time there was talk of a ceasefire, negotiated by Egypt.  My immediate thought was, not yet.  And this time Israel refused the IJ terms.

Yuli Edelstein, the chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said yesterday that Israel could not accept the terms of a ceasefire that Egypt was attempting to broker:

“There were contacts through the mediators, there was a feeling of [approaching] a ceasefire, but then the Islamic Jihad decided it could dictate the terms of a ceasefire. Of course the State of Israel could not accept those conditions.”


Two stipulations by IJ:

First, Israel must commit to stop targeting assassination of their leaders.  We would not agree to that (and more on this below).

And then, Israel must cancel the Flag Parade that is traditionally held on Yom Yerushalayim, which is next Friday.  Again, Israel refused.

This was heartening.  


Two years ago, Hamas launched a rocket or two towards Jerusalem as the Flag Parade was about to begin, and Netanyahu cancelled it.

But according to a report coming from the Security Cabinet on Tuesday, Netanyahu has said the parade will go on as usual, including entrance via the Damascus Gate and a walk through the Old City that includes the Muslim Quarter.

A document put together during that Cabinet meeting stated: “…this is not a dramatic decision, but the continuation of the norm in a sovereign state. Just as the sun rises every morning, the march will continue as always.”

It sounds so simple, so obvious. But this has not always been the case, and the shift in tone is most welcome indeed.  May it be, may it be.

A source present at the Cabinet meeting confirmed this approach: “An unequivocal order was given to hold the march as planned. There is no right to veto, and a Hamas threat can’t tell us if and where to march in Jerusalem.”  (Emphasis added here and above)

National Security Minister Ben Gvir, working with the police, has established arrangements for securing the safety of the participants in the Flag Parade.

Credit: AFP


How much has the presence of Ben Gvir at the Cabinet meeting affected the change in tone?


One of the reasons for the delay in reaching a ceasefire was an action taken by Israel before dawn today (Thursday): another targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander.  This time it was Ali Ghali, the commander of Islamic Jihad’s rocket forces.

The precision of this operation is breathtaking.  Ghali was in what he presumed was a safe house in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, with two other IJ operatives.  Our intelligence located him, however, and our strike was so precise that only that apartment was hit, and only the three IJ operatives were killed; the rest of the building was unharmed.

Credit: Said Khatib/AFP

Islamic Jihad then responded with a barrage of rockets and Israeli Air Force retaliation followed.

While Ghali will be replaced in due course, the loss of the commander of IJ rocket forces creates a certain confusion, loss of morale, and diminished effectiveness in the short term.

Just a short while ago, as I write, a deputy commander of rocket launches, Ahmed Abu-Deka, was also taken out in Khan Younis.  He was a deputy to Ghali.


What I have found a bit unsettling was the determination of Israel to restrict this conflict only to Islamic Jihad.  There have been other times when other terror groups in Gaza launched rockets at Israel and we in turn went after Hamas installations because Hamas controls Gaza and is ultimately responsible.

But this is not happening now.  It is clear that Hamas has met with IJ to discuss the conflict and supports it fully. In fact, when IJ launching pits were bombed by Israel, Hamas allowed IJ operatives to use theirs.

But what is also clear is that Hamas is not ready to take on a direct conflict with Israel now.  Thus all of the bravado about how all of the forces would be fighting together was just talk.


My assumption is that Israel feels confident that our deterrence has been sufficiently strengthened so that Hamas will not attempt to attack.  What was done in taking out four major IJ commanders demonstrates a skill Israel possesses that is likely to give Hamas pause. Our intelligence has provided solid information on the tunnel system in Gaza, and we now have a fence along Gaza that utilizes sensors to detect any tunnel activity near the border: they can no longer move into Israel via tunnels.

Add to this the fact that for the first time we effectively utilized David’s Sling, a medium-range defensive system that takes out projectiles at low altitudes, thereby augmenting the Iron Dome.  It successfully intercepted a rocket headed for Tel Aviv.


All this said, Hamas, the largest terror group in Gaza, continues to strengthen its arsenal of rockets, so that some depletion of that arsenal and related infrastructure seems in order from time-to-time until the day when Hamas will be brought down.


But note the message delivered to the Israeli people (and to our enemies) last night by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  This is the new tone (emphasis added):

“I would like to reiterate: Whoever harms us, whoever sends terrorists against us, will pay the price.

“This principle, that whoever attacks us and tries to attack us will pay the price, was significantly strengthened today in Operation Shield and Arrow. The development of new technological capabilities, and the parallel development of new operational capabilities, in combination with our initiative, is creating a new equation.

We say to the terrorists and whoever dispatches terrorists: We see you everywhere. You cannot hide. We will choose the time and place to attack you. We will choose, not you; not just in response, but in times of calm – the choice is ours.”



It is important to note that roughly one-third of the rockets launched by Islamic Jihad have fallen short and landed in Gaza.  As a result of this, four Arab civilians, including a ten-year-old girl, have been killed.



At the same time, see this video clip of an Israeli Air Force strike that was aborted because children were seen in range:



Just a short while ago, as I write, a deputy commander of rocket launches, Ahmed Abu-Deka, was also taken out in Khan Younis.  He was a deputy to Ghali.

What the IDF has indicated is that Abu-Deka was under surveillance for two days, but was not hit sooner because he was with his family, using them as human shields.  They waited for an opportunity to hit him alone.



It is impossible to predict when the hostilities will end.  At this point some 600 rockets have been launched towards Israel. While there has been damage to homes and cars, until a very short while ago there were no casualties.  Many people in the south, particularly Sderot, have been brought north for the duration.

The range of the rockets launched was greater than had been anticipated, with some headed towards south Tel Aviv and environs. One of the rockets used, with a wider and more accurate range than most in the IJ arsenal, was made in Syria and smuggled into Gaza.

Now in Rehovot (a city in central Israel, south of Tel Aviv), there has been a direct hit on a home, causing our first casualties.

One person was killed and five injured: four in moderate condition and one in light condition.



In closing I note that Yair Lapid has reverted to form.  He apparently could not bear simply supporting the government any longer and has begun to criticize.  And he couldn’t help himself, he included a snide remark about Ben Gvir.

Thus, I should have no illusions about what we might expect when these hostilities end.

As we might have anticipated, a session of the (pointless) judicial reform negotiations at the president’s house was cancelled.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.