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Monday, March 12, 2012

Israel Under Fire: My Predictions (with update at end)

For the fourth day, Israel civilian communities continue to be pounded by relentless rocket fire from Gaza.  Some of the rockets aimed at larger cities such as Beer Sheva, Ashdod and Ashqelon are being successfully intercepted by the new 'Iron Dome' system.  But the majority or rockets are still getting through.

Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said that "Egypt is working around the clock" to stop the violence.  [source] But that is patently ridiculous.

The whole reason Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO was ostensibly so that we would have one authority to speak with rather than dozens of independent armed militias.

I will remind everyone - supporters and detractors of Oslo alike - exactly what was written in the Letter of Recognitions signed by Yassar Arafat:

September 9, 1993
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself...to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
Yasser Arafat.
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.  [source]

Without the bold, underlined sentence I have highlighted above, Israel had no reason to even speak to the PLO, much less enter into an agreement with them!   And that, in a nutshell, is the central failing of the Oslo Accords. 

We signed the agreement in order to support Arafat and build him - and the PLO - up as the sole representatives of the Palestinian People.  We did this so that we would have one party with whom to negotiate a peace treaty. 

However, no outside party can solve the internal conflicts within the Palestinian (or any Arab) community.  They have to do that by themselves, and then offer some concrete proof that it has been done (such as formally disarming the various splinter groups and factions in their midst).

Yet the world keeps pushing Israel to enter into some sort of agreement with 'the Palestinians', while ignoring that fact that 'the Palestinians' is actually several distinct armed groups; each with feelings towards Israel ranging from 'we don't want to talk to them... right now, anyway', to 'we won't rest until Israel is destroyed'.  And there is no way to tell which of those groups/sentiments will be in power a day, a week or a month down the road. 

In short, there is no one central authority amongst the Palestinians that holds a monopoly on the use of force, much less the ability to disarm (or even control) factions/militias anywhere in the 'West Bank' or Gaza. 

As if we needed any more proof of this, in the past four days Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee (just two of the many armed Palestinian terror groups), have fired hundreds of missiles at Israel from territory over which 'the Palestinians' ostensibly have complete control.  And as if the missiles inexplicably fell from a clear blue sky, Israel has nobody to hold responsible!

That was the whole idea behind the disengagement, right?   All the folks who supported the disengagement promised us that once the last Israeli was out of Gaza we (and the world) would be able to hold 'the Palesitnians' responsible for what happened there.  Remember that?  I have to tell you, the silence from the Israeli left on this important point is maddening.   Apparently bad decisions carry no consequences in this country.  At least if you are on the political left.

To quote St. Yithak Rabin:

"The horror stories of the Likud are familiar; indeed they promised us also Katyushas from Gaza. Already a year, the Gaza strip is mostly under the control of the Palestinian Authority, there has not yet been any Katyusha and there will be no Katyusha, et cetera et cetera et cetera. All the chattering; the Likud is deathly afraid of peace. The “peace cowards”, this is the Likud of today. This is not the Likud of Menachem Begin of blessed memory, who dared, and took initiatives, and was willing to pay a painful price to advance peace. The Likud of today is deathly afraid of peace, and therefore, it reacts in a way that is truly childish.

Hebrew Source: Rabin Peace Coward Speech

The sad part is that the leader of Hamas, who wrested control of Gaza from Yassir Arafat's political heir, Mahmoud Abbas, in a bloody coup, claims that he can't stop the rocket fire, and is now laughably turning to Egypt to get his own citizens to stop firing rockets.

This latest chapter in the never-ending story began with Israel assassinating one of the senior terrorists in Gaza as he and an aid were on their way to put into motion a large terror attack similar to the one that was carried out against Israeli civilians near Eilat this past summer. 

I'm sure there are many who sit in safe corners of the world who would insist that Israel not act on advance intelligence of impending attacks, but rather wait until the attacks actually occur, before retaliating.  And even then, the response must be 'proportional'.

Those who feel this way have never lost a loved one in a terror attack or seen the aftermath of such a blood bath.  The reason Israel's intelligence services are among the best in the world is because we can't afford to be reactive.  We can't absorb attack after attack in order to justify a measured response.  We have to know what the terrorists are going to do before they do it!

Sadly, one needn't be clairvoyant to see how the immediate future will play out.  The past offers a well-worn script which will have to be faithfully followed:

1.  The terrorists in Gaza will continue to fire missiles at Israel in numbers large enough to prove their virility, but below the threshold which would require an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.  To ensure this delicate balance, they will fire only at southern communities (even though they have the ability to hit Tel Aviv); towns and cities containing a population they correctly assume the Israeli decision makers consider 'acceptable targets'.  Even one missile on Tel Aviv or its surrounding suburbs and you will see an immediate escalation of Israel's military reaction.  Sad but irrefutable.

2.  Throughout the Israeli response to the rocket attacks, the two main Palestinian factions; Fatah (led by Mahmoud Abbas) and Hamas (led by Ismail Haniyeh) will wring their hands and plead with the world to stop the Israeli 'slaughter of Palestinian civilians'.  The irony is that their pleas will contain the necessary grain of truth.  There have already been civilian casualties in Gaza, as there will surely continue to be as Israeli jets and drones try to target rocket launch cells before they manage to fire their weapons into Israel.   The simple reason for the truth of their pleas is that the rocket launch pads (and virtually all the terror infrastructure and weapons storage depots), are deliberately embedded deep inside densely packed civilian population centers of Gaza.  This was the case during Operation Cast Lead, and the terrorists learned from that experience that dead Palestinian civilians are a far more potent weapon against Israel than whatever weapons they might be able to fire over the Gaza border.  Don't believe me?  Does the 'Goldstone Report' ring any bells?

3.  At some point in the coming days Israel will increase the frequency and severity of its bombing runs over Gaza and two things will immediately happen:

a)  The rest of the world will begin loudly condemning Israel's actions.  From some quarters, such as the U.N. and Europe, the condemnations will be clear and unequivocal.  From others, such as the U.S., the condemnation will come disguised as luke-warm support (e.g. "While we support Israel's right to defend itself, we urge the Israeli leadership to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid harming innocent civilians.").  Either way, the human rights groups will already begin lining up to offer testimony for the inevitable U.N. report that must be written condemning the savage Israeli war machine. [The pressure on Israel has already begun:  Here, and here]

b)  Hezbollah (in Lebanon) will threaten to open up a second front if Israel doesn't stop attacking Gaza.  It remains to be seen if they will make good on their threat, but what most people don't realize is that the threat is meant for European and American ears, not Israel's.  The specter of a 'regional conflict' is a sure fire way to get the world leaders off the sidelines and applying concrete pressure on Israel to back down.

4.  By late Tuesday or Wednesday of this week - the current drama will have reached the point in the script where enough pressure will have been applied to Israel, and enough missiles fired to assuage the slight to the Palestinian terrorist's virility, that a third party - likely Egypt - will be able to broker a cease fire.  That point would normally have been reached over the weekend, but the new Iron Dome system has provided the illusion of greater security which has kept the general population from applying too much pressure on the Israeli government to do whatever it takes to stop the rockets.  The silly part is that anyone with even a basic understanding of math should have been screaming days ago.  You see, the government has been touting a '90% success rate' of the Iron Dome system, while deftly soft-peddling the fact that that's 90% of the less than 10% of rockets that the Iron Dome system is actually engaging.  90% of 10% doesn't sound so good any more, does it?  Especially if you live in southern Israel.

5.  As soon as the cease fire is in place, and the Palestinian terrorists have fired the requisite closing salvo into Israel, Hamas will claim victory over the 'Zionist Regime' and all of the various despots and terror leaders around the region will trade a flurry of press releases and communiques lauding the Palestinian victory, and pointing out how this proves that 'resistance' is the only way to defeat Israel once and for all.  And the sad part is, you can't argue with their logic... or their results.

Well, Hezbollah remained strangely silent on the sidelines, but everything else happened as expected:  Israel increased the empo and severity of the bombing raids on Gaza... the US, U.N. and various others began applying pressure and making statements for Israel to 'use restraint'... a cease fire was brokered... the terrorists continued to fire rockets after the cease fire took effect so as to be able to have the 'last licks'... and in the end the following statement was issued from Gaza:

The Islamic Jihad welcomed the Gaza ceasefire with Israel, saying that it was "a victory for the blood of the shahids, the Palestinian people and the resistance."  [source]

Posted by David Bogner on March 12, 2012 | Permalink


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you have this nailed - Deja Vu all over again

Posted by: Jon | Mar 12, 2012 2:02:37 PM

First, sincere and deeply felt thanks for that summary

one "objection" though

This latest chapter in the never-ending story BEGAN

No, Letters from Rungholt had predicted convincingly by noticing an uptick in incidents that something was in the offing - and if something is in the offing, any pretext will do to launch the possibly long prepared assault. Logistics must be important even for their murder squads.


Posted by: Silke | Mar 12, 2012 2:46:35 PM

something is wrong with the posting - if I click "Post" directly I get a site saying that you don't exist - only when taking the detour through preview could I enter the posting procedure.

Posted by: Silke | Mar 12, 2012 2:48:07 PM

Jon... Feels that way, doesn't it?

Silke... Not sure why you are having trouble posting. I'll check it out.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 12, 2012 3:00:45 PM

If the leadership does not have the balls to stop the rockets from gaza the only way that will make a difference, does anyone really think they would have them involving Iran?

Posted by: dave | Mar 12, 2012 4:50:51 PM

My exact thoughts Dave. If Israel responded with its own missile attacks against strategic and economic targets,all including Iran would quickly get the message about the high costs of terrorism.

Posted by: ED | Mar 12, 2012 9:42:05 PM

My exact thoughts Dave. If Israel responded with its own missile attacks against strategic and economic targets,all including Iran would quickly get the message about the high costs of terrorism.

Posted by: ED | Mar 12, 2012 9:42:05 PM

another thought that they may be trying to sucker Israel into a large response to take pressure off Syria.

Posted by: dave | Mar 13, 2012 1:07:47 AM

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