Monday, November 12, 2012

12-Nov-12: Scenes from three simultaneous wars - one military, one terrorist, one cognitive

Damage in Netivot: Photo credit Shai Peretz [Image Source]
Those polite enquiries people make of each other Monday morning at work have a very different resonance in parts of Israel. "Have a good weekend?" The weekend of anyone living from Tel-Aviv's coastal suburbs and southwards was not good. 

More than 140 rockets and mortars were fired into our suburbs, towns and farms this weekend by a hostile, phenomenally-equipped enemy focusing their fire exclusively at civilian targets, round the clock from Saturday afternoon until late Sunday night. 

If you are thinking of war in the usual sense, it's not. Our enemy is unconventional for reasons that go well beyond the fact that they don't wear uniforms. They don't have any kind of military discipline, or ranks, or principles in the sense of the laws of war. They seek to deal out death and destruction, period. The enemies arrayed in the Islamist enclave called Gaza are driven by religious values that inspire them to kill, to be killed and - as a sign of their devotion and sincerity - to endanger their immediate neighbours and the neighbours' children. Think for a moment of what this would mean if it were happening where you live.

Here's an update on developments.
  • According to Ynet, Egyptian Intelligence officials brokered "an end" to the current round of fighting. No rockets were fired overnight. Nevertheless...
  • One of those endlessly-available Gazan rockets, fired by one of those numberless Gazan rocket-firing gangs,  crashed into a local shop in one of the southern city of Netivot's residential neighborhoods this morning [Times of Israel].
  • Separately, in the same city around 7 o'clock this morning (Monday), a long-range GRAD rocket crashed into the yard of a residence. No one is injured, but there is damage to the building and its surroundings. Power lines were also brought down and there are now power outages in parts of the city. Twenty-six people in the vicinity were medically treated this morning for shock.
  • Schools in Netivot equipped with "proper" bomb shelters (the mayor's word) are open this morning. The others are shut down.
  • Two morning rockets were fired at Ashkelon, a coastal ancient-modern city of 115,000 people, located 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. One Gazan Palestinian-Arab terrorist rocket crashed and exploded in an open field, without causing serious damage. The other was shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system - the fact that the system was triggered is usually a sign that the trajectory of the rocket, as computed by the Iron Dome control system, indicated human beings were going to be hit and hurt.
  • Last night, a Qassam rocket struck a home in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, population 24,000 and a mere few seconds rocket flight from the vipers' nest that is Gaza. Fortunately the family had taken cover in the building's secure space and emerged unharmed. Their home was severely damaged.
  • In a separate Sunday night attack, a building in the Sha'ar Hanegev region took a direct hit; the details of where and what are not being disclosed. 
  • Beersheba and some other southern communities have decided to open schools this morning. There's a strong desire to conduct public life as normally as the circumstances allow. 
It's fairly evident that the government of Israel is serious weighing whether to mount some heavy duty action against the terrorists doing the firing. Since they are deeply embedded in a civilian population, there is bound to be a painful price to be paid for any such actions. According to Ynet, the Netanyahu government "is bracing to face the international community over the possibility of stepping up its retaliatory efforts". 

The same article makes a statement that illustrates how effective the cognitive warfare conducted over the past decade by the terrorists and their media friends is:
Sources in Jerusalem said that generating legitimacy for a ground operation is more difficult than it once was, especially considering the international community's intolerance for such measures. According a state source, Netanyahu wants "to create a reality where Israel isn't blamed for any future escalation. Holding off on retaliation now could allow for an operation when the time comes," an Israeli official said... [Netanyahu] is scheduled to meet foreign ambassadors on Monday and explain that while Israel is exercising restraint, it won't allow rockets to be fired on civilians for much longer."
If - as we believe - this means the lives and well-being of ordinary Israelis are being put at higher-than-needed risk in order to score political points or avoid political fall-out, then that raises some very serious issues for all of us to consider.

Worth noting this statement by the US ambassador to Israel today:
"Our thoughts are with the residents of southern Israel, who continue to be bombarded with missile attacks from terrorist organizations in Gaza. The United States supports Israel's right to defend itself and its citizens from these attacks."

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