Thursday, August 22, 2013

22-Aug-13: Volley of rockets from Lebanon crashes into northern Israel, seeking civilian victims

Times of Israel
Tonight's main news headline on the Times of Israel website (see the screenshot at right) expresses what most Israelis understood long ago: when the Arabs have problems, Israel can expect to pay a price.

Haaretz reports tonight:
At least three rockets were fired on Israel from southern Lebanon on Thursday afternoon, Israel Defense Forces confirmed, setting off air raid sirens in the Nahariya and Acre areas. One of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said. The army believes that global jihad operatives, and not Hezbollah, are behind the attacks. It was not immediately clear exactly how many rockets were fired. The IDF identified a barrage of either three or four rockets fired from the Klayaa area, south of Tyre, Lebanon.
And at Ynet:
It was cleared for publication that the Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully intercepted at least one rocket out of several that were fired from Lebanon at the Western Galilee region. Different media outlets in Lebanon have reported that two rockets were launched at Israel from the Al Kalila region in Tyre district in southern Lebanon... According to the Lebanese reports, the rockets were Katyushas. Lebanese network Al Jadeed TV has reported that the Lebanese military blocked the access to the area from which the rockets were launched... Police advised residents to remain close to shelters... Three people have reportedly suffered shock in Naharyia as a result of the rocket-launches. In addition, a car was damaged by what appears to be the shell of an Iron Dome missile which intercepted one of the rockets.
Over on the other side of Israel's northern and southern borders, there are terrorist forces, armed to the teeth with arsenals of rockets numbering in the tens of thousands, who can and will attack when the mood takes them. They have zero regard for any strategic goals or Israel-related causes, and even less regard for whatever negative consequences their actions might bring onto the heads of their compatriots.

Throughout the Middle East in this absurdly mis-named Arab Spring, Arab states and Arab terrorist groups have their hands full of problems. And life has taught us that in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, a single remedy has served them for generations: when there's trouble at home, strike out at the Israelis.

Here's an extract from Mitch Ginsburg's analysis of the situation. His Times of Israel backgrounder was posted in the past hour:
When all else fails, target Israel       
Thursday’s rocket strike was likely the doing of Sunni jihadists, who exploited Hezbollah’s slackening control over south Lebanon | MITCH GINSBURG August 22, 2013, 9:27 pm 
The rocket fire on the western Galilee on Thursday was likely the work of a Salafist Sunni terror organization, operating from within the boundaries of a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon or the surrounding area. The strike claimed no Israeli victims beyond a few panic attacks and will probably not draw a major response from the IDF. But the event does shed some light on the ever-more-chaotic situation to the north.South Lebanon, long beyond the control of the central government in Beirut, has been ruled by Hezbollah for decades. That organization is hierarchical and disciplined and tends to act within the confines of its own suicidal rationality. Thursday’s attack, not unprecedented, nonetheless is an indication of a slackening of Shiite Hezbollah control.“When the cat is gone, the mice come out of their holes,” said Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar Ilan University, noting Hezbollah’s deep immersion in the war in Syria and its need to display a military presence along the border with Israel, thereby leaving a sort of power vacuum in the Tyre region from which the rocket fire came. Aside from seeking to exploit Hezbollah’s weakened authority, an attack on Israel could increase the chances of an IDF retaliation against Hezbollah; at this point in time, with Hezbollah fighting alongside Bashar Assad and against the Sunni majority in Syria, few developments would be more warmly welcomed by the Sunni jihadi groups. Hence, perhaps, the anonymity of the attackers... Entrenched along the Golan Heights and within the Sinai desert, and to a lesser extent in northern and southern Lebanon, the Sunni jihadi groups have a clear interest in shedding Israeli blood and have found comfort in numbers along Israel’s borders. Furthermore, the alleged large-scale chemical attack outside Damascus on Wednesday and the ensuing international inaction in the wake of that devastating strike, could also spur a Sunni group to fire rockets at Israel — either out of frustration or as part of a plan to instigate international involvement in the Syria conflict. “They are going crazy,” Kedar said. “Assad is killing them like cockroaches and that can lead people to operate from the gut and not the brain.”In addition, Israeli involvement in a conflict stirs global reactions and responses in a way that local atrocities do not.Finally, in the age of active defense, Israel’s intelligence capacities, as Thursday’s rocket fire illustrates, are less opaque. Three weeks ago an Iron Dome battery was moved to the Eilat region; one week later, for the first time, it intercepted a rocket over the southern resort city. On Wednesday, also for the first time, an Iron Dome battery was rotated to the Sharon region, north of Tel Aviv. The rocket intercepted over the Acco-Nahariya may have been shot down by the Iron Dome battery further to the north, in Haifa, but clearly in an age of multiple threats, with varying and shifting degrees of urgency, Israel’s intelligence community was not caught by surprise by the fire from Lebanon.
Try to think of any other nation, today or in history, beset with this deadly combination of enemies on all its borders, enemies who are phenomenally well equipped, unfettered by having to play by any of the rules that are supposed to bind states (they're not states), and driven by religious zeal of an intensity that brings them to commit acts of savagery against their own people (think Syria and Iraq in particular) that may be among the most vicious in recorded history. Then reflect for a moment on the unceasing criticism poured onto Israel (total population: barely 8,000,000, far smaller than the population of Cairo alone) as it tries to fend off the barbarians.

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