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January 20, 2008: Gaza and Sderot

January 20, 2008

In the course of this past week , 160 Kassams and some 70 mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into the western Negev, primarily at Sderot. This has generated a situation of totally intolerable conditions for the local residents.

The IDF response has been to get tougher without actually getting tough enough. There have been a growing number of "pinpoint operations," and the Gaza Strip crossings have been sealed. Obviously without achieving the desired effect.

Today this was an issue of grave contention at the weekly Cabinet meeting, as Public Security Minister Avi Dichter demanded that the government "direct the IDF to bring the firing [of rockets] to a complete stop. Not to curb or reduce it but to stop it, whatever the cost for the Palestinians."

I quite agree. The government is failing the people of Sderot.

But Barak responded defensively: "I don’t remember such anxious talk in the government like what I’m hearing here," he said.

That might be because there hasn’t been a previous Israeli gov’t that has failed its people the way this one is.

Barak opined that the government should show itself united despite differences of opinion, or else it is weakened. In certain cases this is unquestionably the case, but here Dichter is to be applauded for having the fortitude to speak out.


And, naturally, here we go again:

Palestinian officials said they had to close most of the turbines of their Gaza generator today because the closing of the crossings prevented them from bringing in the fuel needed to power those turbines.

Not so! said Shlomo Dror, spokesman for IDF operations in Gaza. There is enough fuel but the Palestinians are attempting to create the impression of a crisis where none exists.

Par for the course, UNRWA saw fit to register its complaints as well, criticizing Israel for generating a humanitarian emergency.

Minister of Housing and Construction Zeev Boim (Kadima) noted dryly that when it came to condemning Palestinian terrorists for subjecting Israeli civilians to barrages of rockets, "I don’t hear the UN’s voice."


And Hamas? It is singularly unconcerned with the inconvenience it is causing the local Palestinian community. Said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: "We will not raise the white flag, and we will not surrender."


And speaking of Hamas…

Underneath the surface of various political doings are currents that keep shifting. Sometimes I feel I’m just about ready to make a statement regarding a situation and I look again and find it has changed….

The Fatah and Hamas rapprochement had seemed to be coming closer and closer, with Abbas’s expressed condolence last week to Hamas’s Zahar on the loss of his son in an IDF operation working to solidify it. And now? Hamas is charging that Abbas’s office is behind a plot to kill (former PA prime minister) Haniyeh via a suicide bombing. Abbas’s office is, of course, denying the charges and saying that Hamas has invented them to foment problems. And there we go…


"Funding Hate Education," the first in a series of papers to be released by the Tax Payers Alliance — a British NGO analyzing the effectiveness of British overseas aid — provides evidence on the millions of pounds in British tax revenues that has been funneled into supporting hate education in the PA.

A spokesman for the British Department for International Development said in response to the TPA report that the department ran "stringent checks" to assure that monies provided were not misused for violent purposes.

The blanket denial, rather than a declared readiness to re-examine the situation, does not bode well for official British attitudes.


Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — by speaking of "body parts" of Israeli soldiers that he might be willing to trade — has so thoroughly enraged and repulsed the Cabinet that there were calls today for his assassination.


Just ten days before the Winograd Report, reservists — working with the Reservists’ Struggle — are heating up their innovative grassroots campaign to get Olmert and Barak to resign. Today they hung large creatively worded signs along the Ayalon Highway, which can be seen from the windows of Barak’s Tel Aviv apartment. "We want him to wake up every morning recalling his promise and realizing that he’s run out of excuses."

Reservists who took part told Ynet that “We used these billboards to pass a clear message to Barak that his promise (to resign following the final Winograd report) is out in the open for everyone to see and so he must live up to it. We also want Olmert to know that the nation has effectively fired him.”

I will be following this campaign and related events closely in the days ahead.




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