It's difficult listening to the commentary of some of the foreign analysts on the battle unfolding around us tonight. Over at the BBC, they had a Middle East "expert" a few minutes ago, making what can only be called sneering comments about what might have motivated the Israeli prime minister to move now and mount an attack. (Hint: the upcoming Israeli elections.)
But from where we sit in Jerusalem, the analysis looks quite different. This (extracted below) for instance is on the front of the Times of Israel site right now:
Israeli politicians from almost across the spectrum Wednesday hailed the government’s decision to embark on a major air operation in Gaza and the killing of the leader of Hamas’s military wing, Ahmed Jabari. Only some on the far left condemned the Jabari assassination, arguing that targeted killings do nothing to advance peace and merely perpetuate the cycle of violence. [Source: "Labor, Kadima, Olmert, Livni back government’s air assault on Hamas"]
Gazan rocket fire, far from stopping under the Israeli attack, is in full force this past hour.
In fact, as Times of Israel's headline writer puts it, they're actually raining down. Rockets have crashed into Ashdod, Ashkelon, the close-to-Gaza regions of Eshkol, Bnei Shimon, and Sdot Negev, as well as the more distant Dimona (just before 9 tonight). There has been especially heavy fire directed at Be'er Sheva: as of now (9:50 pm, Wednesday), it's estimated that 17 long-range GRAD rockets were launched from Gaza in the general direction of Be'er Sheva int he past hour. Fifteen of them (!) were brought down in mid-flight by intercepting Iron Dome anti-missile fire. But one Gazan rocket achieved a head-on direct hit on a shop, injuring one woman while another crashed into a car, setting it on fire and damaging several nearby buildings.
We don't believe anyone over this side of the fence thinks this battle is going to pass quickly. The stakes are very high, and these things rarely work out the way the planners intend them to. Still, there's no doubt many Israelis - like us - are breathing a little easier, knowing that huge stockpiles of Gazan rockets have already gone up in smoke tonight. But that means little in terms of how this will end.