Life is never simple, nor do we have a right to expect it to be. But right now there is a confluence of a number of serious matters – all requiring attention. Most are tests of the new government.
I begin with an opinion piece in the JPost by Dr. Ophir Falk, a research fellow at the International Institute of Counter- Terrorism (ICT): “Proportionality: Doing what it takes to win.” I’ve addressed the issue of proportionality before. But this is so very timely, with regard to the incendiary balloons.
“…tit for tat cycles of clashes have been periodic since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip including Gush Katif in August 2005, and no end of Palestinian terrorism is in sight.
“Acclaimed security strategists, seasoned statesmen, popular politicians and most of the mainstream media view this to be inevitable and proportional use of force in an asymmetric armed conflict.
“They are wrong.
“Proportionality does not mean an ‘eye for an eye’ and the IDF does not need to limit itself to attacks that inflict comparable damage to that caused by Hamas attacks. America was not limited to killing 2,403 enemy soldiers in response to Pearl Harbor. Its response, with the goal of bringing down fascism, was legitimate and proportional.
“…The principle of proportionality is…often misinterpreted. In a nutshell, it means – doing what it takes to achieve a legitimate military objective. Not more than what it takes but not necessarily less either. Doing less, often invites more terrorism, more bloodshed and unnecessarily prolongs combat…
“During the first decade of the 21st century, Israel faced a seemingly endless wave of Palestinian suicide bombings and eventually chose targeted killing as the best tool to confront that terror. Israel proved that targeted killing, while minimizing unintended civilian deaths, is not only ethical but also effective counterterrorism.
“By using surgical targeted killings, Israel was able to stop suicide bombings. After all these years, a similar policy needs to be adopted against arson balloons and missile capability of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All launchers, rocket depots and those who harbor them should know that they will be targeted – during missile attacks, immediately afterward, or before the next attempt. That is the requirement needed to achieve quiet and security for Israelis and that is proportional.
“Israel is fully entitled to apply the military force necessary to achieve the objective of securing its land and people.”
Since I last wrote, I learned that Israel did do additional bombing in response to the balloons that were launched after the first attacks on Hamas sites. It is exceedingly unlikely that this – similar to the first round of bombing — will prove to be sufficient, however. We must be prepared not only for additional balloons but a great deal more. Thus is the issue of proportionality of huge importance.
There has been considerable concern that the new government, including as it does left-wing parties and an Islamist party, will not stand strong against aggression. There are charges that it is Yair Lapid (center-left) and not the right-wing Bennett who actually calls the shots on this matter and others. We shall see.
On Sunday, at his first public ceremony since taking office, the prime minister took a tough stand, warning Hamas that Israel’s “patience has run out.” “Our enemies will get to know the rules: We will not tolerate violence and a slow drip [of rockets].” (Emphasis added)
This is very good, if he will/if he can stand on what he has said here.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz was at the same ceremony, and declared:
“…we must leverage the military achievements into a diplomatic process and be diligent that what was in the past will not be in the future.
“We are working to bring long-term peace, strengthen the moderate elements, led by the Palestinian Authority, bring the boys home, and create a better reality for our neighbors in Gaza.”
“Strengthen the moderate elements, led by the Palestinian Authority”? Uh oh. This is trouble. It’s what comes from having a coalition with diverse elements, advancing diverse perspectives. And it’s one of the more worrisome aspects of what’s happening right now.
It does not appear that in our recent conflict with Hamas we achieved much deterrence (if any) against Hamas. Perhaps – my speculation – Hamas leaders have become bolder because they are making the assumption that our new government will lack the backbone to contend with them.
Whatever the case, Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar is delivering some very undeterred messages. On Monday he broke off a meeting with the UN’s Tor Wennesland, aimed at arranging a long-term ceasefire. It was a “bad meeting,” said Sinwar. “We informed the UN that we won’t accept this. It seems the occupation [Israel] did not understand our message. We will practice popular resistance.” (Emphasis added)
What infuriates Sinwar is that so far we are holding fast, refusing to fully reopen the commercial crossings with Gaza (thus preventing the passage of fuel for Gaza’s power plant), or to fully extend the fishing zones. Nor – and this is major – have we reached an understanding that would allow Qatari funds into Gaza.
Israel is linking these matters to security at the border (which would include a cessation of incendiary balloons) and release of the bodies of our two soldiers and two civilians.
There had been talk of the very worrisome possibility of a “trade,” with Israel releasing some “security” prisoners [terrorists] in return for our captives. Let us pray it does not happen. I can imagine Yahya Sinwar’s fury at our demanding the captive’s release now in return for opening the border and fishing zones. He would be particularly devoted to the notion of a trade, for Sinwar himself, who is as wicked as they come, was released in the trade for Gildad Shalit in 2011. (A signal lesson here)
Hillel Frisch of BESA makes the point very well about the need to hold out against Hamas and not make concessions, as they encourage further violence:
One of the concessions he alludes to is the postponement of a civil court ruling over ownership and usage of property in the Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) neighborhood. This postponement was requested of the court by Netanyahu because of the rioting by Arabs taking place there.
Well…the court ruling is due in early July, and already we are seeing rioting again. On Monday night, Palestinian Arabs threw stones and firebombs at Jewish homes in the neighborhood. One pregnant Jewish woman was injured by a rock thrown at her.
“’There has been a war here for two hours,’ said Guy Assulin, a father of 10 who has lived in the area for 12 years. ‘War. Stones, blocks, fireworks, firebombs. Madness. It’s never been this way.’”
Firebombs were launched at the police, who made four arrests.
A hint of what may be coming. This situation will require strength.
The speed with which there is movement to eliminate fledgling Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria that are not approved is also a measure of the stance of the government.
Right now the spotlight is on the community of Evyatar, which is near the Tapuach Junction in Samaria.
The community was established in memory of Evyatar Borowski, who was murdered at the Junction by Arab terrorists in 1982. It was evacuated several times over the years, but when Yehuda Guetta was murdered at the Junction by an Arab terrorist in early May, there was a determined move to re-establish it.
Evyatar was established on State land, not Arab land, and there was an avenue for legalizing it. Then Prime Minister Netanyahu, who intended to proceed in that direction, ordered Defense Minister Gantz not to demolish it; today Netanyahu continues to stand with Evyatar, now accommodates fifty families.
The Samaria Regional Council has submitted a master plan to the Civil Administration for Evyatar so that it can be authorized as a new neighborhood of the nearby Kfar Tapuah community.
This is an effort to stave off pending eviction. In the beginning of June, Defense Minister Gantz issued an order that declared intent to evacuate the outpost, but to date no steps have been taken. The IDF is saying evacuation can occur any time after June 27.
On this matter Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had something to say. Evyatar will be evacuated, he insisted: “It is illegal. It is not at all a question of right or left.”
How blithely he takes this stand.
In a statement on this issue yesterday, Regavim says:
“We’d like to remind Minister Lapid that in six (!) different rounds in the High Court of Justice, the State of Israel committed to the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar. But, as you all know, the illegal outpost that lies just east of Jerusalem and adjacent to Route 1 is still there.
“The only thing worse than lawlessness is selective law enforcement. For years, the authorities in Judea & Samaria have discriminated between Jews and Arabs. While one side feels the full force of the law, the other builds as it wishes, sprawling over tens of thousands of dunams in Area C without necessary permits from Israeli authorities.
“Khan al-Ahmar is the Palestinian Authority’s flagship case in the systematic takeover of Israeli state lands in Judea & Samaria.” (Emphasis added)
Can we count on Lapid to work furiously for the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, then?
And how about all the illegal Bedouin building in the Negev that will now be rendered legal as part of the deal to bring the Islamist party Ra’am into the coalition? It does seem that status of buildings can be changed when it suits those in charge.
There has been no word about Evyatar from Prime Minister Bennett. An official word from him could make all of the difference. But, as one commentator observed, he would have to buck not only Lapid, but Biden on this.
Whoah! Biden? Do we have a government that is already afraid to displease the far left Biden administration?
This, my friends, rings major bells.
The election of the hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency in Iran has raised alarms. He is reportedly planning to support a return to the disastrous 2015 deal when he takes office in August, while stockpiles of enriched uranium would be increased before then.
“There will be no choice [now] but to go back and prepare attack plans for Iran’s nuclear program. This will require budgets and the reallocation of resources,” an unnamed senior Israeli source is reported to have said in response.
In spite of this situation, and the fact that our government is opposed to the deal and reserves the right to respond unilaterally to Iran, Bennett has announced that he is seeking a “no surprises, no daylight” policy with the US.
No, said Netanyahu from the opposition: This is a mistake that undermines Israeli security. What he is referring to is the fact that Bennett’s government would inform Biden if we were to attack Iran. Bennett’s response was that even with the “no surprises” policy, the US knows we have freedom to act.
And so, forgive me, but Bennett, who claims right-wing credentials, is speaking like a fool. Netanyahu is absolutely correct. It is not that we wouldn’t have the right to attack after we informed Biden that we were going to do so (and presumably Biden registered disapproval). It is the fact that the most effective attack is a surprise attack, and once the Biden administration, which is sucking up to Iran, were to be told, there would be zero guarantee that our attack would be a surprise.
It is a specific goal of Foreign Minister Lapid to have a solid relationship with both parties in the US. He has been critical of Netanyahu’s close ties with Trump, who was incredibly supportive of Israel.
To that end, yesterday (Tuesday), Lapid placed a call to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Foreign Ministry reported, and Lapid “thanked Pelosi for her longstanding support of Israel.”
Wait! Are we speaking about the same Nancy Pelosi? The one who has supported and defended anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic Ilhan Omar, refusing to remove her from her position on the Foreign Affairs Committee?
The Pelosi to whom over 200 rabbis wrote a letter just a week ago demanding that she do something about Omar, who said during a during a House hearing that Israel had committed “unthinkable atrocities” in Gaza?
The Pelosi who didn’t even criticize Omar?
Well, I find Lapid’s sucking up to her nauseating. Below a picture of the two in the Knesset in 2020, when Pelosi was visiting.
Lots more to come, folks!!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.