Monday, March 03, 2008

3-Mar-08: A tough time to be an Israeli

With Israeli forces deeply engaged in a ground assault on Gaza, these past two days have been especially worrying - and galling - to the many Israelis who, like us, hate the conflict with our neighbours - but hate their hatred even more.

Yesterday, Sunday, dozens of Palestinian-Arab rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel. Two landed in Sderot: one hit a house and caused several people to be sent to hospital to be treated for shock; another struck an electric power transformer that burst into flames, causing a power blackout throughout the area. Ashkelon came under sustained rocket attack. One hit a house in the city's center causing shrapnel injuries to a girl. Three other children were in the house at the time of the attack and escaped serious injury by running to the building's secure room as soon as they heard the dreaded 'Color Red' [tzeva adom in Hebrew] alert. Three adjacent houses were damaged as well. The famed tomb of the Baba Sali in Netivot, one of Israel's major centers of pilgrimage, also came under rocket fire Sunday for the first time.

Today (Monday) has been nerve-wracking.
  • A Gazan rocket landed near a Sderot kindergarten around 8:45am while dozens of toddlers were beginning their day.
  • 3 rockets crashed into Sderot and the area just south of Ashkelon around 9am.
  • A fourth rocket landed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
  • Three other rockets landed in the Eshkol Regional Council limits, one landing near a school.
  • A seven-storey Ashkelon residential building took a direct rocket hit. Two residents are injured and hospitalized; 28 others evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock. Significant property damage.
  • Extract from one of YNet's reports from Ashkelon: "We knew the rockets would reach Ashkelon but the moment it hits your house it's completely different," said city resident Avi Shani. "Everyone here is trembling with fear."
  • Two rockets crashed into Shaar Hanegev this afternoon.
  • Tonight, the IDF eliminated a cluster of Palestinian Arab terrorists firing rockets from the north Gaza town of Beit Hanun. Palestinian sources say one of the thugs was killed and that a second IDF strike in the area caused no casualties. The IDF version says the rocket squad was liquidated and the second attack destroyed a donkey cart loaded with rockets.
  • The IDF's infantry and armored forces begin pulling out of the northern Gaza Strip, bringing an end to this phase of the ongoing war. Virtually every newspaper, radio and television news analyst here in Israel has observed today that no one believes the battle is over. Far from it. Emphasizing the point, the heroic leadership of the jihadist revolution crawled out of their hiding places onto the rubble-strewn streets and, in the words of a BBC report, "claimed victory over Israeli forces and held a rally in Gaza City". This 'victory' cost more than a hundred Gazan lives. They celebrated by reiterating their determination to keep those rockets coming.
Disturbing and depressing as the events in the battlefields of Israel's towns and cities are, the aggressive, thoughtless and frequently hypocritical statements of analysts and politicians are, to us, ultimately more dangerous, more threatening.

A very partial list:
  • Saudi Arabia on Sunday compared Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip to Nazi war crimes and urged a halt to its “mass killings” of Palestinians. “Saudi Arabia, which condemns the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and the threats of Israeli officials to turn Gaza into an inferno, sees that Israel through its actions is copying the war crimes of the Nazis,” an unidentified Saudi official told the official SPA news agency.
  • United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon condemned what he calls Israel's disproportionate and excessive use of force in the Gaza Strip. He said while he recognizes Israel's right to defend itself, he condemns the "disproportionate and excessive use of [Israeli] force that has killed so many civilians."
  • The European Union has condemned on Sunday what it called the “disproportionate use of force" by Israel in the Gaza Strip as the EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana is arriving in the region. In a statement, the EU’s Slovenian presidency said: "The presidency condemns the recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against Palestinian population in Gaza and urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from all activities that endanger civilians."It added: "Such activities are contrary to international law...
  • Turkey's prime minister has accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" in its attacks in the Gaza Strip that have killed nearly 70 Palestinians in two days. Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the attacks are killing "children and civilians" and that the attacks can have "no humanitarian justification."
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended peace negotiations with Israel on Sunday, demanding it end a Gaza offensive that has killed more than 100 Palestinians, many of them civilians... Abbas had ordered "the suspension of negotiations ... until (Israeli) aggression is stopped"...
  • Iran has called on the International Criminal Court to bring to justice Israeli leaders for committing war crimes in Gaza Strip. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday night that the International Criminal Court is responsible to make case against Tel Aviv leaders for committing war crimes against the people living in Gaza Strip... Palestine Authority chief Mahmud Abbas said the Israeli raids were "more than a holocaust".
  • John Dugard, the United Nations Special Rapportur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967 issued the following statement today: "Israel's excessive and disproportionate response has likewise been unlawful in terms of international humanitarian law. The failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets violates one of the most fundamental rules of humanitarian law. Collective punishment and the terrorization of an occupied people are also unlawful."
Just to recap the Palestinian-Arab Gazan achievement: thousands of incoming rockets from a regime explicitly dedicated to delivering every form of warfare into our cities and homes; a five-fold increase in rocket attacks from Gaza between the day the last Israeli soldier and farmer left the area until today; indiscriminate and lethal fire at Israeli nursery schools, bakeries, hospitals and power stations... and it's Israel that's charged with being disproportionate!

We quoted from a first-rate Bret Stephens essay, originally published in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago. He suggested that "a 'proportionate' Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza." Maybe.

Did you ever wonder how a serious international organization like, say, the United Nations would react when faced with a proportionate response? How would you be able to recognize a proportionate action when it happens? We want to suggest an answer based on our personal experience:
A privileged, young religious fanatic, scion of a land-owning Palestinian-Arab family, walks into a restaurant filled with women and children at lunch hour on a school holiday afternoon and explodes the bomb concealed in his guitar case. He kills fifteen people immediately. A sixteenth person, the young mother of a two-year-old daughter, is left brain-damaged and unconscious for more than six years (she remains unconscious today). He maims and mangles the bodies of more than 130 other innocent restaurant patrons and passers-by, the overwhelming majority of them children.
One of the noisier of the ambassadors seated in the General Assembly, Nasser Al-Kidwa, a nephew of Arafat, takes the floor and responds to the central-Jerusalem massacre by reading the names of individuals he terms "martyrs" into the UN's public record.

And so it is that the man who exploded the Sbarro restaurant on 9th August 2001 and stole so many innocent lives including that of our fifteen year-old daughter is honored by having his name entered in a list of 'martyrs', exponents of heroic, appropriate, proportionate actions, and deserving of being memorialized in the official UN record. That record is here.

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