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February 1, 2009: And Now What?

March 26, 2009

Yesterday morning, a Grad Katyusha rocket was launched near Ashkelon.

Early this morning, three Kassams were launched into the south; one landed between two kindergartens in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Shortly after, shots were fired at IDF soldiers near the Kissufim Crossing.

And then, four mortar shells were fired at the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council area, wounding three.

Following this, a Kassam landed in Sderot.


Olmert’s response: “We’ve said that if there is rocket fire against the south of the country, there will be a disproportionate Israeli response to the fire on the citizens of Israel and its security forces.”


There were reports earlier coming from the Rafah and Khan Younis region in southern Gaza that residents had been warned to move away from tunnels and areas where weapons are stored.

As I write, there are preliminary reports of an air strike in the Rafah/Khan Younis region with no specifics yet as to what has been hit or how seriously.


The assessment of chief of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, in the report he gave to the Cabinet earlier today is worth noting:

“Hamas has internalized the extent of the physical and moral blow inflicted upon it. Unlike arrogant statements sounded in the media, the organization is conducting serious soul-searching on its strategic mistakes and operational failures.

“Two weeks after the cease-fire began, terrorists not belonging to Hamas are challenging the organization and carrying out attacks in order to bring on another escalation. Hamas is deterred and respecting the cease-fire, but not doing enough to discourage the others.”



I don’t remember how many times I’ve read statements by Barak and Olmert claiming that it doesn’t matter who is actually launching the rockets — Hamas is in charge of Gaza and we hold Hamas responsible for what happens there.

We have to see how significant the air strike turns out to be — I’m guessing it won’t be major. For I fear that ever so subtly the government may be in the process of cutting Hamas some slack: Look, it’s not them, they’ve learned their lesson. In fact I even read some commentary claiming that the response shouldn’t be disproportionate, since it’s not Hamas that is responsible. And so, I have a vague unease about which way the wind is blowing. Is this the mark of a government that is reluctant to escalate significantly right before an election? There will be no deterrence if we go easy now.

Especially am I uneasy in light of the statements by Defense Minister Barak reported in Arutz 7:

“…the time may come for a new confrontation with Hamas but that time has not yet arrived.”

As to ministers calling for a strong IDF reaction, he declared, “Leave it to the Chief of Staff, to the OC [Southern] Command and with all modesty, to me as well. We know better what to do and when.”

When is the last time Barak was modest?

A watch and see situation…


I will note the obvious here (and this has such a strong sense of deja vu): It doesn’t matter if it is Hamas or another group launching the rockets, there can be no cease fire unless all launchings will stop. Saying that Hamas wants a cease fire but other renegade groups are shooting does not a cease fire make, and we must not pretend that it does.


Meanwhile according to the Arabic Al-Arabiya TV station, Hamas has agreed to a one-year truce in return for the opening of the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Mark Regev, spokesman for PM Olmert, has categorically denied this. “This is Hamas disinformation,” he said. He does not expect Rafah to be opened any time soon.


With regard to the above, PA maybe-president Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan, cancelled plans to go to Europe and quickly traveled to Cairo when he heard there might be progress on a ceasefire agreement that involved the opening of crossings.

Analysts were quick to note that this is because Abbas wants to be part of the action — involved in planning and participating in the outcome as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

There is considerable Palestinian backbiting with regard to the issue of precisely who does represent the Palestinians and what groups should be a constituent part of the PLO.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent the Spanish government a set of documents related to the lawsuit against named Israelis with regard to the assassination of terrorist Shehadeh; it was it was hoped this would end the issue. Foreign Minister Livni let her Spanish counterpart know that she was disturbed that a court decision had been made before the documents were in hand.

But the last I heard on the matter (which may not be the end of the matter at all) Spain — while saying it would seek to change the rules for the future — is declining to get involved in “a legal matter.” Theirs is a nation of the rule of law, they say.

Diplomatic efforts continue to be pursued.


And now Mohammed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has weighed in with charges that we “violated the rules of international law.” This is because we bombed an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007. What we should have done, you see, is notify his agency and allow him to check on the situation.

This makes perfect sense, since he’s done such a splendid job handling Iran.

I’ve indicated previously that he is close to worthless in my book. But now I’ll say he’s not worthless, he’s dangerous.

In the course of an interview with the Washington Post, he said he believed that Iran didn’t want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, but only wanted a one-state solution.

Never mind that this is blatantly not when Iran has been calling for, when his interviewer noted that a one-state solution would end Israel’s status as a Jewish state, he responded, “I’m not taking sides on that.”


Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have fallen to a new low after an incident at the Davos World Economic Forum last Thursday, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to the podium and attacked Israel vociferously with regard to our operation in Gaza.

Cannot say this was totally unexpected, in light of statements he had made earlier in defense of Hamas. But his attack in this forum — as Israeli President Shimon Peres was sitting on the podium with him as part of a panel — was reported to be most disrespectful and undiplomatic in tone and blatantly distorted the truth of what had gone on. He charged Israel, among other things, with “barbaric acts.”

Peres then rose to defend Israel. When Erdogan tried to respond again, his remarks were curtailed by the moderator and he stormed off the stage.

Now our foreign ministry officials are saying that as long as Erdogan is prime minister Turkey cannot play the role of mediator in indirect talks with Syria. They are indicating that this represents a blow to those ind
irect talks.

That’s bit of good news, especially as Syria is putting out feelers about picking up on those talks.




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