Yesterday we observed the holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) here in Israel: a festival carrying the same sanctity as Pesach and Sukkot, it commemorates our receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The holiday will close tonight outside of Israel.
On Tuesday, a woman in Sderot was killed when a Kassam hit her car. Two others were wounded in that attack. After a brief interval of quiet, rockets then rained down on the western Negev last night, and again today.
IDF officials were saying that it was too soon to call any lull in the launching of rockets a "victory," and that the impact of the new offensive operations would be seen over time. Hamas is being hit, and hit hard, and the results will be apparent in due course. One IDF official said that it was not enough for there to be a break in the launching of Kassams — there must be a decision on the part of the terrorist groups not to shoot any.
"Anything else is unacceptable to us, every single Qassam is one too many."
This was good news as far as it went , and I was happy to see this shift in attitude, as not long ago I was hearing that, well, it’s hard to stop all of them, and we just have to try to slow them down.
Of course — which should not be forgotten — even if they decide, for the moment, to stop shooting because it serves their purposes, if they still have the weapons — still have the capability — there is risk to our civilian population.
Today, even though rockets are still being launched , Hamas is showing signs of being nervous. That is clear. It is the targeted assassinations that are doing it. Hamas officials are going underground. Those doing training and launching are nervous about being out in the open. Israel has let it be known that even top Hamas officials involved in sanctioning attacks on us — such as Haniyeh and Mashaal — are not immune from being targeted. Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said that a Palestinian who advocates Israel’s destruction is not a leader, but a terrorist in a suit. Part of Israel’s success at this point lies in the accuracy of pinpoint strikes, which avoid significant collateral damage.
In addition to the strikes, Israel last night also arrested 33 key Hamas persons — the education minister, several mayors, and more. The new UN special envoy to the Middle East, Michael Williams, said he was "troubled" by these arrests. But from an IDF source came the response that "We have information about many other Hamas officials engaged in terror. We have not seen the last of these arrests. [Those arrested] facilitated terrorist organizations in various ways, and we intend to indict them."
There are strikes inside of Gaza at various infrastructure sites as well. Today, for example, a site used by Hamas forces was demolished.
And so, Hamas began to talk about the possibility of unilaterally declaring a truce. But after a meeting in Gaza City between Haniyeh and Abbas, it became clear that their intention was to get Israel to participate and to extend it to Judea and Samaria. Nothing doing! Israel responded. As one senior military official said, "They won’t get a prize for stopping the fire they escalated." The IDF wants to continue to run operations into Gaza as deemed necessary even if Hamas tapers off its attacks. Terrorist attacks emanating from Judea and Samaria have been kept to a minimum in recent years because Israel has had the latitude to move in that area as security risks become apparent. There is every intention of continuing this practice there, and the expectation seems to be that a similar practice will be instituted in Gaza.
At Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv a tent city is being erected , courtesy, once again, of billionaire Arkady Gaydamak. This is to accommodate residents of Sderot who cannot tolerate their circumstances and need a bit of peace. Once again, government officials are not pleased with this grandstanding, which exposes their failings.
A double edged sword: Make no mistake, Gaydamak IS grandstanding and has ulterior motives. And the government needs to be shown up with regard to its failures to attend to citizens.
US Ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones , in a talk at Bar Ilan University on Monday enraged many when he said about Jonathan Pollard, "The fact that he wasn’t executed shows that he was treated mercifully." He suggested that this was all of the mercy Pollard would ever get, and that Pollard had sold out his country.
His remarks were libelous and misrepresented the case. Only treason is punishable by death in the US, and Pollard wasn’t convicted of anything close to treason — only of passing classified information to a friendly nation. No one in US history has been treated as harshly for spying for an ally.
MK Uri Ariel subsequently responded that "Israel was forced to employ Pollard as its agent only because America betrayed our trust and hid critical information from us regarding chemical weapons and anti-Israeli terrorist plots in Arab nations, in blatant violation of agreements we had with the US which we kept in full… " The information Pollard passed did not injure the US, but rather helped Israel. The way his case is treated indicates blatant bias.
Jones subsequently apologized, saying his comments "did not reflect my personal views nor those of the Bush administration…
I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression."
Forgive me, but this is garbage. I am among those who thinks this ambassador should be sent packing.
Anti-Israel positions in the international arena continue to emerge. I mention here two matters:
The World Medical Association, at the call of a group of British doctors, is considering a boycott of Israeli doctors. Why? Because Israel has "systematically flouted the fourth Geneva Convention guaranteeing a civilian population unfettered access to medical services and immunity for medical staff." That is, claim these doctors, Israel doesn’t always let ambulances through checkpoints unhindered. There is no mention, however, of the fact that Palestinian ambulances are sometimes used to hide terrorists and weaponry. The Geneva Convention says that medical units that are misused lose their protected status. In fact, the Geneva Convention doesn’t even have a provision guaranteeing "unfettered access to medical services." But why bother with the facts when it’s possible to zing it to Israel?
At the same time, Amnesty International, which has now accused Israel of war crimes during the Lebanon war, is, according to NGO Monitor, "focused disproportionately on condemnations of Israel." This past year the organization released more documents criticizing Israel’s human rights stand than it released documents regarding human rights abuses in Sudan. Sudan! Many of its claims regarding the Lebanon War were "false or severely lacking in credibility," while Hezbollah was not even criticized for kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
The pity is that an organization like Amnesty International has a credible reputation in many circles. We can only combat the bias by responding with truth.