Tuesday, November 13, 2012

13-Nov-12: Sit down for two minutes, please. We want to share with you this update.

Yesterday in Netivot, southern Israel. A police sapper
removes what's left of a Gazan rocket that exploded right next to
someone's home. [Image Source: Menahem Kahana/Getty Images)
Before reading on, please stop for a moment, and remind yourself that
  • Israel is not, in any practical sense, in a war with neighbouring states. The people doing the shooting - and trying to do the killing - are irregulars: without uniforms, without constraints, without the responsibility of feeding, clothing and educating the people among whom they live. We are not at war with a state.
  • No nation on earth has stepped in, or is proposing to step in, to help Israelis deal with the matters that have the country vexed today. In every meaningful sense, Israel is alone in facing this.
  • The overwhelmingly strongest side, as measured by military equipment, discipline and effectiveness, in the immediate physical vicinity of the place from which we write these words, is Israel. 
  • Without a doubt (and we do not speak as military strategists or in the name of anyone but ourselves) Israel could decide five minutes from now to unleash utterly devastating military force against the people taking potshots round the clock at us. To sharpen the point, those potshots are being taken with literally zero regard for the welfare of Israel's civilian population. Israel's civilian population is the target. The reality is that Israel could, but it has not done anything of the devastating kind of thing. There are of course many cogent reasons why, but it's not physics; it's a decision. We heard someone this morning say it well: Israel's responses have been like carrying out a lobotomy - it's far closer to surgery than to defensive warfare.
  • You (yes, you) are unable to name - or to identify from a police line-up - the organizations, and/or the leadership of the organizations, who hold in their hands the power to deliver life-and-death attacks on residential areas across the physical majority of Israel's surface. Admit it. The attackers are basically anonymous. Even the professional news media people here have a hard time figuring out who gets the 'credit' for one or another of the round-the-clock attacks.
With those points in mind, here is a 12 noon update from Jerusalem on Tuesday November 13, 2012.
  • Some number greater than 160 missiles, including explosive rockets and explosive mortar shells, have crashed into Israel since Saturday. 
  • Fortunately no one has been killed on the Israeli side. But this is not for lack of trying on the part of the terrorists doing the shooting. The opposite is true. They keep shooting because they keep trying. What they want is to see our side crying over its dead.
  • Forty-some Israelis have been injured, most of them relatively lightly in a physical sense, from the shrapnel, rocks and parts of walls that flew at furious velocity in all directions when one of those 160 missiles crashed into their targets and exploded. Many have required hospitalization. Many others have picked themselves up, dusted themselves and their children off, and gone back to living their lives as well as they can. And many others are scared and traumatized.
  • Schools in scores of Israeli communities south of Tel Aviv have either shut down until this latest wave of terrorist attacks passes or have opened and are using their safe rooms and bomb shelters. (Personally, we are glad not to be seeing published photographs of frightened Israeli school children huddling in those facilities.)
  • The Palestinian Arabs in Gaza say seven people have been killed in the Israeli countermeasures that have been taken since Saturday. The Palestinian Arab claim is that four of those killed [source: Times of Israel] are civilians. It might be true that as many as four of the dead in Gaza are civilians, but the fact is the rockets being launched from there are frequently stored in and fired from houses, mosques and residential neighbourhoods. In simple terms, the terrorists of Gaza are fully and actively engaged in using unwilling human shields. (And that's before we turn our minds to the religious doctrines they espouse that make the sacrificing of the next door neighbours' children in order to hurt a despised enemy a good deed, elevated to a holy act by scriptures.) 
  • As dusk fell yesterday (early Monday night), multiple long-range GRAD rockets were fired by the Gazan terrorists into several Israeli communities simultaneously. An as-yet-undisclosed number crashed and exploded in the vicinity of Be'er Sheva (population 195,000), Netivot (population 28,000) and Ofakim (population 25,000). 
  • We know it's hard to keep track of such things from the distance, but none of these cities are considered by anyone as 'occupied territories' and never were. (Other, that is, than those who believe the State of Israel is all occupied territory, all illegitimate, all in need of being turned into something different or of being destroyed. To them, we have nothing to say.)
  • The Israeli-developed Iron Dome anti-missile system succeeded in destroying in mid-air two incoming missiles heading for Ofakim yesterday evening. Who knows how many lives were saved by this?
  • Three additional Gazan terrorist rockets crashed and exploded in open areas near the southern city of Sderot around 10:00, Monday night.
  • We are very relieved to say the two rockets on which we reported this morning in real-time [see "13-Nov-12: Reports of Ashdod rocket explosions"] exploded in open space near the city's edge and caused neither injury nor serious damage. Ashdod, for readers not so familiar with the compactness of this country, is Israel's sixth largest city with a population well over 200,000 people. For all practical purposes, it is a suburb of Tel-Aviv, located just 30 kilometres (about 20 miles) south and within 45 minutes' commute-drive, even in peak hour traffic. It's also the place where Israel's largest port is located; nearly two-thirds of all of Israel's imports pass through Ashdod. And did we mention that more than 200,000 people - civilians - live there?
There are large parts of the news media that fail to understand any of the above, and also fail to understand what Israel is doing, plans to do or should do. A classic of its kind is the news report that went up on the Daily Beast website in the past half hour [here]:
"Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party are urging him to take revenge on the Islamic Hamas group in Gaza after a weekend of missile and rocket attacks that wounded several Israelis and caused damage to homes." 
Revenge? Is it called revenge when someone shoots at you, keeps shooting at you for years, months and days on end, and then does it again this morning (refer to the Ashdod news above)? It's not revenge, dear reporters and editors at the Daily Beast. It's defense and it's what every Israeli expects and demands from the people pressing the buttons at the army and the Ministry of Defence.

We are trying not to get overly polemical about this. But would your government (assuming you live outside Israel) tolerate a situation like the one that has become daily routine here? We accept that there are people who believe Israel owes them an apology for some wrong-doing, or perhaps it's more than an apology. But when we listen to the angry threats of the armed-to-the-teeth terrorist leaders, we understand that there is no dialogue detailed enough, long enough or immediate enough to cause them to stop. They are not interested in understanding us or in our understanding them. What they are interested to do is precisely what any government worthy of the name must stop them from doing. 

Failing to understand this dooms you and us to remaining victims of the war being waged on us by the terrorists. That certainly includes everyone reading these words, wherever they reach you.

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