My last posting, written on May 30, was entitled “Reprieve?” After a 24 hour barrage of rockets and mortars that brought us to the brink of war, it had gotten quiet in the south. I didn’t delude myself that it would be quiet forever, but I assumed that the quiet would last a bit longer than two days.
The news was actually quite encouraging at that point. We had not bombed randomly in Gaza. Rather, we utilized high level intelligence to guide us in our choice of targets.
The commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, said, “We have attacked very high value targets that we have been waiting for the opportunity to strike, and I think that at this point in time we have made a very great achievement here.” (Emphasis added)
When some of the sites we had hit were revealed, it seemed to make sense that Hamas had called for a ceasefire very speedily. We hoped that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right when he reported to the Cabinet that Israel had the upper hand.
What became clear after he said this was that he and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had masterminded the way the situation was handled without input from the Security Cabinet, which had given prior permission for them to do this.
The Israeli public has been giving high approval ratings to both in a variety of polls.
Things were looking good because it was possible to imagine a situation in which Hamas – which had taken hits on sites of considerable value to them, such as a holding area where unmanned submarines that were to be used for terror attacks had been stored – would think twice before inviting more of the same.
However, starting at about midnight Saturday night, the first of four projectiles was launched into Israel. Over the course of the night, sirens sounded in the various communities close to Gaza. The first three launchings were, I believe, mortars, and were taken down by Iron Dome.
The last in that series was a rocket that landed in an open field.
In response, IAF targeted 10 Hamas sites in three military compounds in Gaza; these included two munition manufacturing and storage sites and a military compound.
A rocket barrage from Gaza followed, which sent residents of Sderot, the Eshkol regional council and the Shaar Hanegev regional council into shelters. These rockets were downed by Iron Dome.
I do not have information on whether the IAF attacked again.
Nor am I going to speculate here as to what promoted this most recent attack. Some believe it is Iran doing the prodding, even as some event closer to home is used as the excuse.
There have been times in the past when Israel has tolerated what were referred to as a “drizzle” of rockets – which meant a couple here and there, but not a barrage. That was not really acceptable then – even though policy made it seem as if it was. Now I do not believe it will be tolerated. Every launching of a mortar or rocket must be dealt with.
It is understood that the residents of communities near Gaza must be protected and enabled to live normal lives. (I have just learned that the warning system has been improved so they now have 23 seconds to get to a shelter instead of 15 – imagine! – but that hardly qualifies as normal.) The residents require quiet. As the IDF spokesman put it: “The IDF…is determined to fulfill its mission to protect and ensure the safety of Israeli civilians as needed.”
However, the IDF spokesman also said this, which is of considerable import (emphasis added):
“…the state currently does not want conflict in the south because there are other, wider considerations. Our policy is to return to security stability quickly, to continue to building the barrier against terror tunnels, and to enable the IDF to cope with greater threats. We acted wisely and logically this week and are prepared for a battle greater than the previous Gaza war, to which we are closer to than ever.”
This, then, is an answer to those who would see us take down Hamas now, or take over Gaza: We cannot spare the resources because of larger concerns. What we do with Gaza is utilize deterrence to keep things quiet there.
But that is with regard to rockets and mortars launched at us, and there are other concerns beyond this that we must cope with in the south.
The weekly “events” of violence at the Gaza fence were supposed to have run their course on May 15th, but the decision was made to continue further.
And so, there was considerable violence at the fence again on Friday. The IDF reported that the violence included “thousands of rioters” at five locations along the border, “burning tires adjacent to the security fence and attempting to damage security infrastructure.” Shots were fired at an army vehicle and a Palestinian Arab crossed into Israel, planted a grenade and returned to Gaza.
Most significantly, charges are being leveled at the IDF that a 21 year old female paramedic named Razan al-Najjar, a volunteer with the Gaza health ministry, was killed when she was shot in the chest (alternate versions I have encountered say in the stomach or in the back) by one of our soldiers. She was said to have been tending a “protestor” wounded some 100 meters from the fence in the Khan Yunis area. She was reportedly dressed in the garments of a medic, and thus would have been identifiable.
Her funeral was held on Saturday, attended by thousands. The crowd, needless to say, was thoroughly worked up. And the carrying on in the media was impressive: Angel of mercy loses her life, etc.
The IDF is officially investigating, and I will say that anyone who moves close to the fence during times of violence runs a certain risk.
However, I am convinced that there is more to the story than what we are hearing. We’ve had stories already about an alleged member of the press and a medic who were shot by the IDF; both turned out to have Hamas connections.
I know enough about IDF procedure at the fence to know that great care is taken before a soldier is given permission to shoot. I feel with absolute certainty that none of our soldiers would have deliberately taken aim at her, to take her down, while she was treating someone. There is more to the story.
I will follow through as additional information surfaces, but here share a news item related to this story. It tells us immediately that all is not as it seems to be (emphasis added):
“Members of Hamas’ security forces attacked a mourners’ tent erected by the family of Razan al-Najjar in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Wafa news agency reported.
“According to eyewitnesses, Hamas terrorists violently attacked those visiting the tent, removed Fatah announcements, and gave one of the victims a head injury, Wafa reported.
“In addition, Hamas banned the mourners from using vehicle microphones to discuss the dead woman.”
Strange behavior after the alleged tragedy, is it not? Some sort of Fatah-Hamas rivalry appears to be at the heart of what happened: This is my dead person, not yours.
I did a bit of research and picked up another story involving an Arab teen who was killed near the fence in April. An altercation broke out between members of Fatah and members of Hamas then as well: “Sources close to Hamas accused Fatah of seeking to exploit the death of the boy ‘to score political points.’”
A spokesman for Fatah, Atef Abu Seif, said: “Fatah had the honor of sacrificing three martyrs last Friday.”
Please, absorb this: “score political points” “The honor of sacrificing three martyrs.” There are political points to be made when one of yours gets killed, or is “sacrificed.”
And I will suggest that this is likely what happened in the current instance as well. It is not just a question of a sweet and kind Arab girl who cared for others and lost her life while doing so. It’s a question of the political points that can be made from her death. Which, folks, makes the entire story as it is being fed to the public dubious.
Lastly here I want to address a critical situation that has me and a great number of others enraged. You have all read about the kites with flammable material attached that is sent over the fence into Israel and causes fires. The situation, I am pained to report, is getting worse.
“…since the start of the protests the kites had set over 270 fires, destroying some 25,000 dunam (6,200 acres), or more than a third of all the land adjacent to the Strip. Fields and farms growing grain have been destroyed.” And this is with IDF drones having taken down some 500 kites that were set to cause fires.
Saturday – yesterday — was the worst day yet, as the Carmia Reserve was set on fire. “Officials at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority estimated that at least one third of had been destroyed.
“They said it was likely the flames had caused massive damage to both the flora and the fauna in the reserve.”
The reference in the URL above is to fire kites, but what has been discovered is that it is not just kites. They are now using helium balloons, which stay aloft better, filled with a dripping flammable chemical or smoldering charcoal.
Fervently do I hope that each of you finds this sickening. These are the “peaceful protestors.” They are protesting, you see, because they think we have their land, and they love it. See how they love it.
I implore you to share this information far and wide.
This is a picture taken by a drone camera of the Be’eri Nature Reserve, burned earlier:
And this is what the Reserve looked like in early spring:
Animals, who are not part of the battle, caught in flames. Farmers who have labored long and hard in their fields, and now see them go up in smoke.
We will win this battle, rest assured. But we have not yet called for an accounting here.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.