Tuesday, December 23, 2008

23-Dec-08: On truces and hope

As winter sets in, things have been getting uncomfortably hot. Here's a taste of what it can mean to live in the same neighborhood as thuggish barbarians.

Sunday, 15 rockets and mortars were lobbed into Israel from Gaza. Those who do the firing don't give a moment's thought to what they might hit. It matters to them not at all. For them, any target of any sort is legitimate so long as it's located inside Jewish territory: schools, power stations (and especially the Ashkelon power station that feeds electricity into Gaza), buses, shopping centers, car parks, farming villages, old-age homes, kindergartens. They don't deny it.

Sunday's tally: a greenhouse at Moshav Netiv Ha'asara was hit early Sunday morning, shrapnel-wounding one of the workers. A private dwelling in Sderot was almost completely destroyed in a direct hit by a Gazan Qassam - the sole resident, a single woman, was inside and shaken but not seriously hurt. (You can see here in the picture above.) A Qassam rocket landed next to a factory in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. And a Qassam rocket crashed into Ashkelon's southern industrial area.

Monday, in the words of the Christian Science Monitor, "A
lthough the Islamist militants called for a 24-hour halt in attacks on Monday for mediation, the region seems once again to be at the brink of another escalation over Gaza." Reuters reported that "Palestinians in Gaza observed a 24-hour halt to rocket fire against Israel at the request of Egyptian mediators..." and then helpfully explained that it was not exactly a complete halt; in fact (if you skip to the bottom of the long article) "The hold on firing seemed to be observed, with only two rockets and a mortar reported to have been fired on Monday from Gaza, and a rocket and four mortars shot on Sunday night."

You're in the vicinity of Hamas, friends. It's called a truce when "only two rockets and a mortar" are fired into your home - in the Reuters lexicon, at any rate.

Today, Tuesday, 6 Gazan Qassam rockets were fired into Israel. Two crashed into undisclosed parts of the Eshkol region. Two more exploded in the Shaar Hanegev region. One exploded right on the security barrier separating Israel from Gaza. And one was fired into a kibbutz, also in the Shaar Hanegev region just after dark this evening.

Then this evening, three Gazans were detected rigging explosives near the fence the runs between Israel and the Gaza Strip, right next to Netiv Ha'asarah, an agricultural settlement. The Israeli soldiers who spotted them exchanged fire with the well-armed terrorists who managed to hurl a grenade in their general direction before being permanently and irrevokably removed from the conflict by the Israelis.

This being the Middle East, the elimination of three murderous thugs, hiding explosives next to an agricultural community's fence characteristically gets reported this way by AFP: "
Israel fires on Gaza militants denting truce hopes". Just like those Israelis to go denting people's hopes all over again.

In Lebanon, by contrast, the Daily Star is running a clear-eyed editorial in tomorrow's edition, headlined "Palestine's own leaders aren't doing its people any good". Extract:
"Fatah and Hamas, are... more concerned about prevailing in their internal power struggle than they are about the welfare of the people they claim to represent. Anyone can operate a militia, chant empty slogans, and compete with other militias to see who can do more damage... Kicking this self-defeating habit is a prerequisite for any meaningful progress on the road to Palestinian liberation. Should the current leaders be unable or unwilling to make the necessary changes, they should give way to a new generation..."

Now that's something worth hoping for.