This is happening against a background of an ongoing vicious terror war waged against Israelis and Jews that (as we have said once or twice before) is mostly overlooked, ignored or just not understood. This inability or unwillingness to comprehend, and to look a little deeper than the mainstream media coverage, goes a long way towards explaining how the reporting on events here is so often partial, subjective, agenda-driven and wrong.
36 Israelis were murdered by terrorists during 2008. The year before, 2007, the number was 13. This is an increase of 177% year on year. Notable? Headline-worthy? Don't hold your breath.
Acts of terrorism by our immediate neighbours, the Arabs of Jerusalem, are sharply up in the annual security service report summarized by Haaretz today. The report points out what most Israelis already understand well: "East Jerusalem terrorist are exploiting their familiarity with the city, as well as their legal status and ability to move across it, to mount attacks against Israelis." Attacks by rocket and mortar shells are sharply up too.
There has also been a notable increase in the ability of Islamists to inculcate their hate-based ideology among Arabs inside both the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The number of indictments of Arab individuals identified as Al-Qaida or global Jihad "activists", "miltants" or "energetic fanatics" -- the correct term is terrorists -- rose sharply in the past year, according to the report's authors. The signs of more trouble for us here in the future are hard to miss.
While some of the news coverage of death and destruction in Gaza is created with the above insights in mind (for instance "Hamas' Strategy of Escalation" published two days ago in the paper and electronic editions of the German news-magazine Der Spiegel), much of it is not.
A widely-published Palestinian-Arab, Israeli-resident analyst by the name of Daoud Kuttab, for instance, had the breathtaking chutzpah to start his critique of Israeli actions in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post on Tuesday with these words:
"In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine."There's a whole brigade of editorialists, spin-meisters and soldier-writers in the army of Israel-haters who write like Kuttab. For them, the terrorist hordes of Hamas fire off harmless, homemade toy rockets, and the mean and nasty Israelis answer back with sophisticated warplanes and guided missiles. It's excessive force! It's disproportionate!! It's genocide!!!
Those who manage the propaganda efforts for the Palestinian Arabs use the image of victimhood for all the usual reasons, and always have. This is good for winning sympathy and for impairing Israeli actions by demanding restraint even in the face of naked Palestinian-Arab aggression. But the 'amateur rockets' of Kuttab and his kind have killed and wounded hundreds of Israelis. He knows that. Most of his readers do not. Those who do know it are either ignoring the reality for political or ideological reasons, or making clear that it's simply of no consequence to them.
As of today, Friday afternoon, the vast Hamas arsenal of Qassams, Grads, Katyushas and other deadly but largely unguided missiles has put more than 250,000 Israelis under direct threat of being killed or maimed or left homeless by aerial attack. It's Kuttab's privilege to call this "nagging". But it's not nagging. It's life and death, when you use real-world terms and real-world intellect to analyze it. And it calls for life-and-death response.
The Hamas-sponsored terrorists of Gaza fire their missiles and plant their roadside bombs with absolutely no concern for the outcome, just so long as the victims are Jews. (Truth to tell, their actions make clear they don't really care if some of their victims are not Jewish. It's the thought that counts, which is why so many Gazan children have been maimed or killed in the past several weeks by mis-fired Gazan rockets.) And under international law, Israel has the right to respond with the force necessary to end the conflict.
And for those who doubt that Israel is using its weapon systems to avoid unnecessary harm to Palestinian-Arab Gazans, ask UNRWA how much of its infrastructure and operations has been impaired by the intensive fighting of the past week.
That Gazan mosque flattened by Israeli planes yesterday produced several explosions - it was filled with Hamas rockets and explosives. No one here in Israel expects outrage over the cynical hijacking of religion for purposes of terror; we take it for granted when discussing the terrorists and their tactics. But did your local news report that the Israeli army is phoning - in Arabic - into Gaza ahead of the pin-point bombings and telling families who live in targeted buildings, typically rocket warehouses and bomb factories on the ground floor, with private dwellings above them - to get out and save themselves?
Disproportionate is what you call it when terrorists and their media apologists use words like amateur and nagging to describe what they do. What they do is murder. And proportionate is what you do to stop them. Everything you do to stop terrorists is proportionate.