The “Arab Spring” has made available increased amounts of weaponry that Hamas has been able to smuggle into Israel in the past year. Some 15% to 20% more. Most worrisome is the possibility that sophisticated, laser-guided Russian anti-tank missiles and shoulder-to-air missiles (such as those that have disappeared from Libyan warehouses) have found their way into Gaza.
Always, when I read this sort of thing, I wonder at what point it becomes prudent to act preemptively. Don’t have the answer. But I think about it. These reports have the effect of making Israelis feel just a bit like sitting ducks.
The word is that the IDF is prepared to go in at any time, and that, in fact, active duty brigades have begun carrying out drills in preparation for a possible operation.
The question is at what point the political leadership might decide to give the word.
If there is an operation, it would essentially be in response to rockets that continue to be launched from Gaza time and again — to which the Air Force responds in a limited fashion. Or at least this is how it would be spun, even if preemption with regard to new weaponry was part of the motivation.
Said Col. Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, in a press conference at the border with the Sinai:
“…we are prepared to launch another offensive, a different and more versatile offensive [that is, than Cast Lead, three years ago], in order to renew deterrence…”
The decision as to whether Israel goes into Gaza now or not is in the hands of people in Gaza, he said:
“If they do not prevent rocket fire and stop terrorist cells from leaving the Gaza Strip and infiltrating Israel through Sinai, we will unleash a painful campaign on the Gaza Strip.”
The people? He’s talking to the leaders of Hamas or no one.
Shortly before this, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz made a similar statement in a TV interview:
“From time to time we have to deal with rocket fire from Gaza and we know that terrorists are gaining strength and expanding their base on Egyptian territory. I don’t think Israel will be able to tolerate a continuing threat from Hamas in Gaza. Sooner or later we will have to launch a new large-scale operation in Gaza. The IDF knows how to strike terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. Any potential operation would be planned in advance, initiated from our side, and carried out quickly.”
My take? We’re looking at saber rattling. Notice how qualified Gantz’s remark was: “sooner or later…” If a major operation into Gaza were imminent, top brass would not be talking about it. This doesn’t mean that a shift in the situation might not provoke an attack, but…
Col. Hermoni, in the course of speaking with journalists, also described efforts by terrorists groups to kidnap additional soldiers, in the wake of the Shalit deal. This is because “there are additional Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”
Is anyone surprised?
Efforts are being made at several levels to prevent such attacks — including the enhancement of intelligence to keep the IDF apprised of where tunnels from Gaza and the Sinai into Israel are being dug. Shalit was grabbed when terrorists showed up in Israel via a tunnel from Gaza that exited near the Keren Shalom crossing, and this past summer eight Israelis were killed when terrorists tunneled into Israel from the Sinai.
It is anticipated that once the fence closing off the Sinai is completed, there will be efforts to infiltrate into Israel via Jordan.
Procedures for how soldiers should act in the event of an abduction or attempted abduction are being codified by the IDF.
Yet another effect of the unrest of the “Arab Spring” may be a revitalization of al-Qaeda. Writes Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council:
“…the past half-year has seen new signs of life to the terror cartel, as it seeks to capitalize on the turmoil generated by the multiple revolutions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa in order to expand its strategic reach. And in at least one geographic location—Israel’s southern border—alarming signs suggest that the organization has begun to put down fresh roots.”
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan Halevy, who has an intelligence background, has put out a briefing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Egyptian Islamist intentions with regard to Israel:
“The prevailing optimism in media reports concerning the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist party’s readiness to adhere to the peace treaty with Israel is based on general statements made by senior officials in both parties. These statements maintain that Egypt must honor the international treaties that it signed.
“Yet a more rigorous examination of the two parties’ stances identifies a markedly different tendency. Both seek a way to cast off the Camp David agreement in a manner that will incur minimal diplomatic and economic damage to Egypt, and restore Egypt to its leading role in the circle of states confronting Israel.”
His analysis is well worth a read, and you can find it here:
Well, the deal in process that I recently wrote about with regard to Ramat Gilad — which had been threatened with dismantlement — has been finalized:
The state has agreed to retroactively authorize this tiny community as a neighborhood in Karnei Shomron, while the residents of Ramat Gilad have agreed to permit nine structures (five of which are homes) built on disputed property to be moved a short distance to undisputed property.
This is good news and shows what is possible in lieu of razing “illegal outposts.”
I have, however, one observation. In two different media sources I read that those structures had to be removed because they were built on Palestinian land. And I want to ask, Says who?
Moshe Zar says that he purchased this land, and intends to continue to fight for it in court. So I think calling it disputed would be more appropriate.
Please keep in mind that no Palestinian Arab has come forward and claimed this area in court. The subject was raised in court by Peace Now.
A piece on this issue — “The myth of private Palestinian land” — by Moshe Dann may help you make some sense out of what’s going on:
I am sooo tired of politicians who are not pro-Israel but claim to be “the most” pro-Israel. The latest is a spokesman for Ron Paul, and I’m not going to there because it’s ludicrous.
But Obama and members of his administration have been using this line regularly, and here I would like to share an informed response to this — “Let the Facts Tell You Otherwise” — by Daniel Halper, deputy on-line editor at the Weekly Standard, writing as a JINSA visiting fellow:
Yesh Din (“there is justice”), an extreme left-wing Israeli NGO, went to the High Court recently to ask that 10 quarries in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which according to the Oslo Accords is under Israeli military and civilian control, be shut down because it was a violation of the Hague Convention of occupying powers.
High Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch completely rejected the Yesh Din petition. Israel, she said, could not be seen as a “classic occupying power.” What is more, “Yesh Din is not an ‘interested party’ with a right to petition on these issues.”
This is refreshing. See more here:
The last article I will recommend today is by Zalman Shoval, “Why Gingrich is right — and wrong.” This is because I agree with the essence of his thesis, and although not every detail:
“The Palestinians may indeed be an invented people, but this invention is now a fact of political life…the real issue is not a theoretical one, but how to best deal with this reality in practical terms.”
Shoval provides important background information that everyone needs to have. And he makes the significant point that:
“It is an irony of history that while Arabs in Palestine didn’t define themselves as ‘Palestinians,’ others did use that self-definition — the Jews.”
It is because the notion of a “Palestinian people” has become a political reality that I will not write about them as if they don’t exist. (I refer to them as “Palestinian Arabs,” and not just “Arabs.”) In practical terms today they do exist. If I ignore this, I put myself on the political fringe and lose any opportunity to convince others of the nature of this people: The fact that they were invented — as a response to Zionist development — goes a long way to exposing the intentions of Palestinian Arab leadership. It is “against,” not a positive development at all. While it venerates violence, this people has contributed nothing positive to the world.
What is more, as they are a recent invention, they cannot legitimately lay claim to the land, which is part of Jewish heritage.
And, lastly, the fact that I consider them a political reality does not mean by a long shot that I believe that this entitles them to a state. It does not. There are many peoples in the world, peoples with a legitimate history, who are not invented, and who have made genuine cultural contributions, who don’t have their own state.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced that an ancient stone seal — known as a cartouche — has been found near the Robinson’s Arch at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. In Aramaic, it bears the inscription, “It is pure.”
The soil layer immediately above the find has been dated to the first century BCE, and archeologists believe this is from Second Temple times.
Explained Eli Shukron of the Antiquities Authority, and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, who are associated with this project:
“This is the first time an object of this kind has been found. It is direct archaeological evidence of Jewish activity on the Temple Mount during the Second Temple era..
“Products being brought to the Temple had to be stamped pure – which is what this seal was used for.”
December 31 will pass for me unnoted. I mark Rosh Hashana as the New Year. And yet, in recognition of the large percentage of my readers who do note — and celebrate — New Year’s Eve, let me here wish one and all a happy new year. May 2012 be a time of blessings for all of us.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.