Monday, December 29, 2008
One Israeli was killed and fourteen others were wounded by a Palestinian Grad missile which exploded near a construction site in the coastal town of Ashkelon.
Most of the victims were construction workers from the Galilee village of Manda and the Bedouin town of Rahat. Five were considered in serious condition, four sustained moderate wounds, and five suffered light injuries.
The man who was killed was named as 27-year-old construction worker Hani al Mahdi, from the Bedouin village of Aroer (Ha'aretz).
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Let's assume that Hamas is a rational political actor. What did the organization hope to achieve with the barrage of rocket, mortar, and missiles that it has fired at Israeli civilians since the conclusion of the cease fire? There are two separate but linked strategic aims that the Hamas government in Gaza is pursuing:
"If the Qassam [rocket] fire does not stop, the Israel Defense Forces will fight you with the same might with which it fought Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War," said Hanegbi (Kadima), speaking to Army Radio (Ha'aretz).
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Nederland zal er niet aan meewerken dat deze top, net zoals de vorige, ontaard in een antisemitische hetze (Foreign Affairs press release).The Netherlands will not take part if this conference, like the previous one, turns into antisemitic agitation [my rough translation - Dutch speakers, please correct mistakes!]
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Last week, Karen AbyZayd, who heads the UN relief effort in Gaza, offered first-hand confirmation of the desperate urgency and unacceptable conditions facing the civilian population of Gaza. Although many leaders have commented on the cruelty and unlawfulness of the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel, such a flurry of denunciations by normally cautious UN officials has not occurred on a global level since the heyday of South African apartheid.And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease. Such a policy of collective punishment, initiated by Israel to punish Gazans for political developments within the Gaza strip, constitutes a continuing flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Some of the six people killed at the Jewish center in the city had been treated particularly savagely, the police said, with bodies bearing what appeared to be strangulation marks and other wounds that did not come from gunshots or grenades.
Monday, December 08, 2008
- specifically anti-Israel language, including the charge that the Law of Return is inherently racist
- broadly anti-Western material
- a campaign by the Islamic states to import anti-blasphemy provisions and legitimize them in international law under the notion of “defamation of religion”
Thursday, December 04, 2008
. 43 בעיקרו של דבר, הראיות המינהליות שבידי המדינה נותנות בידיה עילה לעשיית שימוש בכוח הנתון על-פי צו סילוק פולשים לסייע למחזיק כדין להחזיר לעצמו את החזקה שנתפסה שלא כדין על-ידי העותרות. די בראיות מינהליות אלה כדי לבסס את התנאים הנדרשים לצורך עשיית שימוש באמצעי של סילוק "פולש טרי", הניתן למחזיק המנושל על-פי צו סילוק פולשים. בירור שאלת "החזקה כדין" של המחזיק המנושל לצורך עשיית דין עצמית מחייב בדיקה סבירה ברמת הוכחה מינהלית בלבד, כנדרש לצורך הגנה אפקטיבית כנגד פלישה (מיגל דויטש קנין א 420 (1997); ויסמן בספרו, שם, עמ' 113-114). בשימוש בכוח לסלק פולש טרי ניתן ביטוי לאינטרס הציבורי בהגנה על החזקה, ומודגש הצורך בשמירה על הסטטוס-קוו בשטח לבל יותר מצב של כל דאלים גבר. בסילוק "פלישה טרייה" מסייעת המשטרה למחזיק כדין לממש את הגנתו מפני פולש (ענין סוכובולסקי, שם). בכך מקיימת המשטרה את חובתה להגן על שלום הציבור, ולמנוע שימוש בכוח כאמצעי לאכוף טענות בדבר זכויות (בג"צ 418/78 אבנר לוי ורפאל לוי חברה לבנין ולהשקעות בע"מ נ' שר הפנים והמשטרה, פד"י לג(2) 108 (1979)). בנסיבות הענין, היה על העותרות לפנות לערכאה שיפוטית לצורך הוכחת זכויותיהן למבנה, ולהימנע מעשיית דין עצמית בדרך של נטילה חד-צדדית של החזקה בניגוד להסכמת המחזיק. שיקולי סדר ציבורי עומדים מאחורי הכלל לפיו מחלוקות בענין זכויות קנין מקומן להתברר בערכאות שיפוט, ולא בכוח הזרוע בין הצדדים היריבים. מי שמשנה מצב קיים שלא בהסכמת המחזיק נתפס כמפר סדר, ולכן ראוי להחזיר סדר על כנו על-ידי הוצאת הפולש מן הנכס, והפנייתו לבית המשפט לשם בירור זכויותיו (ויסמן בספרו, שם, עמ' 113-114). חובתה של המשטרה היא לסייע למחזיק אשר נושל מחזקתו, כאשר הפלישה היא טרייה, וזה המצב בענייננו (פרשת טל השקעות ובנין, שם, השופטת נאור).
44. בירור הזכויות המהותיות בין הצדדים אכן מתקיים עתה בערכאות המוסמכות. בירור זה אינו מייתר את הצורך להחזיר את המצב בשטח לקדמותו עד להכרעה שיפוטית בשאלת הזכויות לנכס על מלוא היקפן ומורכבותן. אין צריך לומר, כי בעתיד, על הצדדים יהיה לפעול על-פי ההכרעה המשפטית הפסוקה החלוטה שתינתן במחלוקת ביניהם. למותר לומר, כי אין אנו מביעים כל עמדה במחלוקת המהותית בדבר זכויות הצדדים בעקבות עיסקת המכר שנקשרה ביניהם.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The disastrous state of the Palestinian economy and the patchwork legal and security framework, we're told, render this state of affairs all but inevitable. The PA's official and the Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist attached to the IDF in "Judaea and Samaria" seem resigned. Political and military imperatives weigh against enforcement of the the 1978 Antiquities Law or the PA's own rules -- which are what exactly? And what is the status of the Israeli Antiquities Law in the territories? Apparently, you need an export license to transfer antiquities from Hebron to East Jerusalem; so said the Israeli courts in Ruidi and Maches v. Military Court of Hebron.
Indeed the situation seems chaotic. But I would argue that traffic in illegal antiquities in the territories isn't only a product of the breakdown of the peace process and the dearth of the Palestinian economy. It's also related to the curious, confusing Israeli stance on the entire issue of antiquities. Today Israel countenances an enormous amount of illegal excavation and sale within its 1967 borders. By one count, 11,000 of the 14,000 sites within the Green Line have been looted. The root cause is often related to a simple contradiction in policy. The Antiquities Law effectively nationalizes any artifact that surfaces. They're all state property. And yet, the antiquities trade is legal -- whereas in many neighboring nations, it's not. With strong demand from museums (some internal) and collectors large, small, and sometimes powerful (see Moshe Dayan, Yigal Yadin, and Teddy Kollek), pressure to increase supply is constant. You might get the idea that the anarchic West Bank is the perfect playground for rich collectors. Ironically, the dubious legitimacy of an Israeli export license may attract more of them.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We, the Oxford Arab Cultural Society and the Oxford Students' Palestine Society, alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and concerned members of the public, held a demonstration outside starting over an hour before the talk, and lasting - audibly - throughout Peres' speech. Some of us attended the lecture and, at intervals, nine students got up and made loud statements beginning 'I represent all the Palestinians who...' One such student was bundled out of the lecture hall. Peres was visibly fazed by these interruptions and the sound of the protestors outside, while the audience were thus made aware of the point of view being stifled by Peres' presence today in Oxford, and every day in Palestine.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
"Rhambo" has Obama's ear (Photo: AP)
US policies in the region are in the grip of a severe credibility crisis. I am not talking about the campaign to spread democracy, to which the Bush administration had hardly adhered before the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and that it abandoned entirely afterwards. Rather, I am speaking of the conventional role that Washington has played since the end of World War II, which is to protect its allies -- Israel above all -- and to steer the collective security arrangements in the Gulf in order to safeguard the flow of oil. Many of America's allies have begun to question the efficacy of Washington's polices and, in some cases, now believe these policies cause more problems than they solve.What kind of role does he expect Washington to play? Is he really so delusional as to think that anything meaningful will come of Arab flirtations with other (rather mysterious) powers? The "allies" to whom he is referring may believe what they like. They have long been free to do so. The more important question is, what are they going to do about it?
Obama will pursue a different kind of foreign policy in the region than Bush. But he will certainly not stop protecting Washington's allies or the flow of oil.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The anticipated victory of Obama in the U.S. elections signals the end of Jewish domination. Everything changes in the USA and we hope that it will be more democratic and humane.If only it weren't so evil, in addition to being completely out of touch with reality.
Perhaps the headline of my post, which refers to "European" antisemitism is misleading. But I happen to think that there is a significant minority of Europeans who share the sentiment of Avriani but are still too cautious to articulate it in public. Granted, antisemitism in post-war Greece, on both the left and right, which is one of those phenomena that seems to defy rational explanation, is especially virulent. But didn't the talk of Jewish neo-cons and lobbies strike the biggest chord in virtually Jew-free Europe?
I fear that pointing out the overwhelming support for Obama among American Jewish voters (77%!) is the wrong strategy for handling this nonsense. And alerting Avriani's editors to the biography of Obama's rumored pick for chief of staff might be similarly counter-productive. The great champions of "democratic and humane" values would do well to examine themselves more closely.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Steven Erlanger wrote a perceptive piece on Muslim-Jewish relations in Paris' 19th Arrondisement in today's NYT, which contains much of the kind of quotidian testimony one must take into account when discussing Europe's "New Anti-Semitism." Erlanger's picture is Brooklynesque: hipsters, immigrants, Lubavitch, aggressive teenagers, and a darling park where they all meet up. In recent months, a couple of religious Jewish boys have been involved in altercations with young blacks and Arabs. When 17 year-old Rudy Hadad was beaten into a coma in June French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly shuddered at the specter of anti-Semitic motives. But what's really going on in this neighborhood?
In 2002, when worries about anti-Semitism in France were peaking, I was hanging out with a Tunisian Jewish friend of mine on these very streets, the Rue de Belleville to be exact. Alex worked in jewelry manufacture. He had attended a local technical high school where he would have interacted quite often with non-Jews, many of them Muslim immigrants from North Africa. According to the article, Jews are fleeing such schools. Along the avenue, Alex pointed to phone card signs advertising rates for Morocco-Mali-Togo-Chad. "Would you ever think this was France?" he asked, incredulously. He was French, he wanted me to see. He was different. In fact, I often felt he was desperate not to be taken for an Arab, for a "Beur" in argot slang.
Erlanger's article chalks up much of the tension between young Jews and Muslims in the 19th to simple group-think and bravado. What happens in Israel bears little on whether or not two cliques of different faiths scrap in the park. I'm very sympathetic to this viewpoint. Some of the interviews here also raise the possibility of class grievances manifesting themselves in Muslim on Jewish violence. I think one has to be very careful with such explanations. For the Jews I knew in Belleville, Jewishness was the epitome of classy; something the more well-to-do Parisian Jews, with their Arab friends and cosmopolitan attitudes, laughed at over drinks on Sunday afternoon in the Marais. What do these brawlers in the 19th think? Who knows. Maybe they just want to fight.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Should Olmert resign after the primary, the cabinet also resigns and the government becomes a transitional government, with Olmert at its head, that remains in power until a new government is formed. This could take least a few weeks, but might only happen after a general election, probably in the spring.By law, no minister or party may leave a transitional government. Thus, even if he is subsequently indicted, Olmert would be locked in as head of the transitional government, whether he - or anyone else - likes it or not.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The UK newspaper the Independent ran this profile on Saturday of Jawdat Khoudary, a Gaza construction magnate with a keen interest in archaeology. This man is pouring money into an archaeology museum to house Gaza's prolific ancient heritage, but fears locals won't support his efforts. I take it that he means they won't visit the museum, and that looting will continue unabated (as apparently it did in the aftermath of the '67 war, no doubt with Moshe Dayan's approval and participation). What's the solution here? Khoudary, who seems to recognize that transnational cooperation is also crucial, hopes to pique the pride of his countrymen. It's common sense: get people to take ownership of heritage, and they'll protect, promote it, etc. Call that the "Macedonian model." But will that work in Gaza? In East Jerusalem? Unfortunately, the archaeology of these places is often at cross-purposes with a number of political, military, and economic objectives. That's why in certain cases, I'm sympathetic to a different model, that of "world heritage." This, loosely, is one of the major lines of defense mounted by former colonial powers' against repatriation of ancient artifacts. The Elgin Marbles in the British Museum belong to everyone, so the argument goes, not just the Greek state -- though of course nationalist excitement of a different kind helped bring the stuff to London in the first place. James Cuno, former curator at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Harvard, has just written a book called Who Owns Antiquity: Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage, in which he argues that the interests of world heritage should always trump national interests in archaeology or in the management of heritage. I fear that we won't be able to purify archaeology as Cuno might like. In fact, if Macedonia and Gaza are any indication, maybe we shouldn't.
The Russian devastation of Georgian positions in the break-away region of South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and, now, the Caucasian country's heartland signal a new reality not only in this part of the world but in Russia's role elsewhere.
As so many commentators have pointed out, this was the first time that we have seen Russia's military confront regular armed forces, as part of an international conflict, since its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. One could nitpick and point to the fighting in Chechnya, but here Russia faced a separatist insurgency carried out by irregular though effective bands of fighters. Russia's performance in that earlier conflict, however, was interpreted by many as a symptom of its military's disintegration.
Now, Russia has asserted its supremacy, before its doorstep - in the air, sea, and on (the rather treacherous) land. It faced down a modern fighting force by a small but rising power, whose army has been supplied by Ukraine, the US, and Israel (until recently). Interestingly enough, although the news showed up only on a few tickers several weeks ago, Israel suspended its arms shipments (primarily UAVs) to Georgia - probably after Russian pressure.
After the diplomatic defeat in Kosovo, which the Russians have always argued should also mean a green light for Abkhazian and Ossetian independence from Georgia, Putin and Medvedev have upped the ante - they are talking about an outright annexation of these regions to Russia. The South Caucasus, in retrospect, was a red line for Russia, beyond which it would not allow any more encroachments. With Georgia's foolish decision to launch a preemptive attack on the separatist positions in South Ossetia, Russia has seized the opportunity to take an even larger bite.
The implications for the former Soviet republics are clear - states from Turkmenistan to Ukraine (and their would-be allies in the West or elsewhere) must now own up to the fact that whatever support is delivered to them from afar better be significant if they are to assert themselves against Russia. For the weaker states among these republics, this will mean toeing a more neutral line between Russia and the West. The belligerent factions in Azerbaijan pressing for a renewal of hot war with Armenia, over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, may have been served notice. This would be a dramatic reconfiguration of the South Caucasus, with the the "TBC pipeline powers" folding their cards to Gazprom - though it remains to be seen how Turkey, another state whose current military capabilities in international conflict are still untested will react this state of affairs. To be sure, the reduction of Georgia to a rump state around Tblisi would be good news for the other resource-poor state in the region - the Republic of Armenia.
For larger former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Russia's actions will accelerate coalition-building with the West and investment in their armed forces. Apparently, the Ukrainian navy is not standing idly by as Russia attempts to blockade the Georgian coast, to prevent Ukrainian arms dealers from shipping weapons there. But it remains to be seen how much force, if any, Ukraine will be able to wield against Russia in this round.
Beyond its immediate sphere of influence on its frontiers, Russia has made explicit its rejection of an international system that it perceives as stacked in the West's favor. It has also made the Western European powers preaching to it look like paper tigers. Although much of Russia's rhetoric in this conflict has been directed at the US, which it blames for inciting Georgia's attack in the first place, it has become clear that the Americans decided early on that Georgia was not worth an overt confrontation with Russia. No doubt, this will bring joy to many Russian analysts and to others riding the bandwagon of America's decline. They should be careful not to overstep the new borders demarcated for them.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Sen. Joe Lieberman (Photo: Huffington Post)
Most will readily concede that the Republican strategy against Obama has of late played increasingly upon the deep-seated fears of ordinary Americans that “he’s not like us.” That, of course, was what Obama was responding to, but he slipped and gave his opponent a tactical opening when he contrasted a) his face, and b) a dollar bill. He slipped because in pointing up the difference between his skin color and George Washington’s, by so casually disassociating himself from a national symbol, he appeared to assert multiple identities: black, American, outsider, insider. While I think the outsider appeal can get him some emotional traction, the idea that he somehow secretly harbors a distinct, separate, even primary identity that most Americans don’t share is very dangerous. For what it's worth, the simultaneous presence of these various identities in a single soul is, to my mind, entirely unobjectionable, and actually renders Obama all the more American.
Contrast Obama’s tightrope act on the issue of his race with Lieberman’s freewheeling comments about his Jewishness on Meet the Press. Lieberman displayed, not for the first time, his utter lack of compunction about calling attention to his minority identity. First, Tom Brokaw asked, “Do you think running a campaign ad in which you feature Britney Spears and Paris Hilton with Barack Obama is respectful?”
Lieberman: “I do. First off, you know, we all ought to relax a little bit. It's, it's a bit of humor. It's a way to draw people into the ad. Incidentally, the McCain campaign has another ad up in which they seem to be comparing Obama to Moses. So, in my book, that's about a good comparison as you can ask for. I should say, in ‘The Book,’ it's about a good a comparison as you should ask for.”
It’s remarkable how Lieberman comes off as both pious, correcting “my book” to “the Book,” and ireverant, comparing, by means of the old transitive property, Moses to Britney! I suppose we’ve come to a point in American culture where the claim “I’m Jewish” is also a claim along the lines of “I can joke around in ways that border on the inappropriate.” The genius of Lieberman is he’s also signaling in very sober terms to America’s church-going population that he’s “just like them,” only fiercely loyal to his book.
Later, Lieberman returned to his Jewishness in a defense of McCain’s tolerance. After all, Joe pointed out, McCain and his wife adopted a girl from Bangladesh – and they love her! What’s more, Lieberman seemed to imply, so quickly did he move from the issue of the adoption to the issue of their personal friendship, the presumptive Republican nominee for president has been pals for twenty years with (gasp) – a Jew.
Lieberman: “Let me just add a final word, Tom. In 2000, Al Gore gave me the extraordinary honor of being the first Jewish-American to run for national office, and Al Gore said he had confidence in the American people that they would judge me based on my record, not on my religion. And I urge Barack Obama to have the same faith in the American people that they will judge him on his record, or lack of record, certainly not on his name or his race.”Lieberman’s use of his Jewish identity is devastatingly cynical. He wants to be the macho minority, kicking some tail as a trailblazing Jew, only to revert to the American Everyman when he’s done bragging. Unlike Barack Obama, who will rarely ever choose the battle fields on which his black identity will be subject to the various pressures of public life, Lieberman is quite well positioned to inject his Jewishness into the mix when it’s politically expedient. In fact, I dare say Lieberman seemed to be taking advantage of the fact of his Jewishness to lend legitimacy to his attack on Obama for the gaffe. For McCain, Lieberman was the perfect operative for the week’s controversy. He played the Jewish card in order to denounce Obama for “playing the race card!”
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
1. Contrary to the claims of Shelly Yachimovich this is not a diversion. Neither the talks nor their acknowledgment have been orchestrated to save Olmert's political career. If anything, these talks put Olmert in an even more precarious position domestically than he is now.
2. We do not know what the Americans think about all this, but the agreement goes entirely against the spirit of Bush's policy since 2003. Did the Turks keep the Americans apprised of developments in the process?
3. These negotiations cannot extract Syria from the Iranian embrace. They will not deliver Hizbullah or Hamas to Israel. All they can aim at is the formalization of the relative calm that has existed on the Syrian-Israeli border since 1973 - in itself hardly be an insignificant feat.
4. The recent Doha agreement, engineered by Qatar, formally delivered Lebanon into the hands of Hizbullah and the Iranian-Syrian-(Qatari?) axis. It diverges radically from the US-Saudi policy on Lebanon that has endured until now.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Like most of the Western media, Ha'aretz has done a very poor job of covering the events that transpired in Lebanon last week. With Hizbullah having imposed a de facto blackout early on in its coup attempt, few people inside or outside the country were in a position to gain a sense of what was happening on the ground. Hizbullah's own media war has added to the confusion, so that it is not at all clear who won, if anyone. Thus, I was more than a little annoyed by the coverage of Zvi Barel, who seems to have bought the line that Hizbullah scored a major victory:
Sad and tired, wearing shabby clothes and with tears in his eyes, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt stood on the veranda of his luxurious home in Beirut's Clemenceau neighborhood and explained his decision to television viewers. A few hours before the interview, he had called his political rival, Talal Arsalan, and asked him to coordinate with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah the cessation of the fighting in Mount Lebanon, Aley, Chouf and the Maten region, the power centers of the Druze. In return, Jumblatt ordered his people to lay down their arms and hand them over to the Lebanese Army. Within the framework of the well-planned battle Hezbollah is conducting with the aim of changing the balance of power in Lebanon, the Mount Lebanon struggle, involving rival Druze families, might constitute Nasrallah's most important victory.
Contrast this with Tony Badran's (fiery) analysis over at Across the Bay:
Hezbollah had another thing coming. For three days of intensive fighting in the Shouf, and contrary to the lying info ops and disinformation of Hezbollah water carriers like this clueless Hezbollah willful tool (on whose propaganda for Hezbollah I've written in the past and will soon be ripping to shreds once again), not a single village in the Shouf fell to Hezbollah. Not Niha, like that Hezbollah watercarrier MacLeod wrote, not anything.
Quite the contrary. According to the PSP and other local sources, more than three dozen Hezbollah fighters were killed and a number of their vehicles were destroyed. The fact that they had to introduce artillery and vehicles (mounted with heavy machine guns, like so, and recoilless rifles, like so) only showed that they could not make advances into the villages.
Not just that, but Hezbollah's attack has led Talal Arslan's fighters to switch and fight alongside the PSP against Hezbollah, undermining Hezbollah's tiny Druze ally -- which is precisely why Jumblat put him in the forefront from the get go (it was not, as shrill commentators and dishonest flacks read it, a sign of "weakness." It was a shrewed move by a master tactician.).
At the end of the day, the PSP maintained control of the strategic hills of the Barouk to the east and Ras al-Jabal west of Aley, overlooking the Dahiyeh.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The capabilities that the Palestinians demonstrated with yesterday's rocket attack on Ashqelon are impressive. Despite the limitations placed on them by the blockade and by occasional IDF operations, the terrorist groups in Gaza have consistently upgraded the range and power of their missiles. In comments to Ha'aretz today, Amos Yadlin, head of AMA"N (Military Intelligence Department), warned that two years from now, even Be'er Sheva might become a target. He did not announce any specific initiatives to forestall this threat.
The aims of Hamas and the other groups rocketing Israel's southern communities are various. One of the goals seems to be to pressure Israel into a truce that would result in lifting the "siege," whose effects have of course been greatly exaggerated by Hamas propagandists. Paradoxically, the Palestinians are trying to achieve this by demonstrating their ability to bomb Israeli civilians and by blowing up crossing points designed for the delivery of food and fuel.
Another aim of Hamas, which Yadlin also acknowledged in comments to the press, is to create deterrence against Israel comparable to the deterrence that Hizbullah achieved. Just like Hizbullah, Hamas wants to be able to strike at will deep into Israeli territory, turning Israeli civilians into its hostages in order to ensure that the IDF does not attack Hamas's fighters and leadership in Gaza.
These two aims suggest a number of different responses.
- Israel might agree to a truce and to the conditions imposed by Hamas, in return for an end to rocket attacks (diplomatic solution)
- Israel might acquiesce to Hamas's regime of deterrence and cease attacking its forces, in the hopes of quiet
- Israel can opt for its own policy of deterrence (military and economic)
- offensive operations to destroy the Palestinians' rocket-firing capabilities (military)
- defensive measures to limit the impact of the rocket strikes (military)
- Gives Hamas time to build up its forces for the next round; given the organization's ideology and support/pressure from Syria and Iran, it will not be turned into a pacific neighbor
- Same as above without even a formal set of protections; liable to break down at any moment.
- Hamas does not care if Palestinian civilians die as a result of IDF operations; in fact, images of civilian deaths or injuries aid its cause.
- the IDF has so far proven unable to do this; its efforts in this area during the Lebanon War of 2006 were unimpressive.
- expensive and so far ineffective
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The katyusha or Grad rocket attack on Ashqelon today surely marks a new chapter in the war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. Since the disengagement from Gaza, we have seen a steady erosion of red lines, as more and more Israeli civilians have come under fire from Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups in the Strip. It may be important at the political level to distinguish among the various factions carrying out the rocket attacks and to evaluate particular motives. For the military, however, these kinds of considerations are irrelevant. What matters is that Palestinian terrorist groups have acquired and preserved the means to strike major Israeli population centers, despite a much-maligned "siege" of Gaza and numerous air force as well as ground operations. And even though the latter have often claimed the lives of many Palestinians - civilians and fighters - Israel has not been able to establish effective deterrence. Neither diplomatic nor military means have so far been able to protect Israeli civilians from these attacks. Despite countless announcements about an imminent truce this past year, we seem no closer to calm on the southern border than before. With Prime Minister Olmert's political career in limbo and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) possibly facing challenges from inside and outside the party, we may end up seeing the kind of major ground operation that the Israeli right has been agitating for. Such an operation may also be accompanied by assassinations of Hamas's political leadership.