As in “really, really…”
A report, drawing on Egyptian sources, appeared very recently in Al Araby, an Arabic newspaper in London, with regard to continuing efforts by President Al-Sisi to secure a long-term agreement between Israel and Hamas.
This report, cited by YNet, indicated that Egyptian Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel is going to be visiting the PA, Israel, and Jordan in the course of efforts to get Abbas to cooperate.
“Kamel, according to the paper [Al Araby], is trying to prevent further escalation by either Israel or Hamas in an effort to maintain the ceasefire until a long-term agreement is reached.” (Emphasis added)
I read this and saw that something was askew. Maintain the ceasefire. What “ceasefire”?
No, Hamas and Israel are not launching rockets at each other. But when a Hamas-inspired mob is lobbing grenades and firebombs at IDF troops, and other Gazans are encouraged and aided by Hamas in the launching of incendiary projectiles that set fires inside of Israel, how can the situation be referred to as a “ceasefire”?
What I see is that from an international perspective, the on-going – and escalating! – aggression from Gaza does not exist, or is seen as inconsequential. If Israel were to launch a rocket attack on Hamas in a defensive response to this aggression, then Israel would be considered the party that generated an escalation.
Wrap your head around this.
But there is more:
The violence at the fence has escalated even further in the last couple of days. Rioters threw grenades and explosives at the IDF troops. Dozens approached the fence, in some cases exhibiting a determined effort to break through to Israel.
In a response to criticism about the way the situation was handled, IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said (emphasis added):
“The incident was controlled…from start to finish and at no point did it get out of hand. The fighters hit dozens of rioters using riot control means and shooting at rioters in accordance with open-fire regulations.
“IDF forces will continue to act to ensure the security of the residents of the area in the face of various terrorist attempts, as they do all the time.”
Wait just a minute here! Yes, terrorists breaking through and running into Israel would be a very serious matter. But does the IDF believe that, with regard to the situation in Gaza now, the only risk to the security of Israeli residents is the potential for terrorists to break through?
Is there no acknowledgment of the risk to the security of the residents of the area presented by incendiary devices sent into Israeli airspace, devices that set fires that are sometimes extensive? Or the risk of devices sent into Israeli airspace carrying explosives – devices that represent a tragedy waiting to happen? (I won’t even mention the risk to the health of Israelis generated by toxic smoke from burning tires.)
I am having a difficult time with this, my friends. Is the IDF confident that everything that might be done to protect the security of the residents of Israel is being done?
I would suggest that this is not necessarily the case.
Especially as I understand that “shooting the rioters in accordance with open-fire regulations” refers to multiple restrictions placed on our soldiers regarding when and how they can fire. Absolutely, there must be rules and guidelines. But if these restrictions are in place to minimize the possibility of charges being leveled that Israel is committing “war crimes” or is generating an escalation, then it may be that our soldiers are hobbled in their attempt to fulfill their mandate to protect Israel’s citizens.
Escalation by the IDF might be a very good thing now. How about putting out a warning that anyone (or any adult male) who touches the fence from the Gaza side will be summarily shot? And then doing it? Or shooting down any adult seen launching an incendiary device or an explosive device? Or, for that matter, shooting any adult lobbing a grenade or a firebomb at one of our soldiers
I know full well what a dirty fight it is from the Gaza side: I know that Hamas sends in women and children as human shields to protect their terrorists, confident that we will not shoot the women and children. And that they produce that smoke as a screen as well.
But I also believe the status quo is not tenable.
And what of war?
I read a commentary the other day suggesting that Abbas is generating the deplorable humanitarian situation in Gaza so that Hamas will react with violence (which is what is happening), thereby provoking Israel into going to war. The goal from Abbas’s perspective then would be to see Israel take down Hamas. This, as Abbas imagines it, would lead to the Palestinian Authority being brought back in to administer Gaza.
It was the opinion of this commentator that if we were to go to war, we would be acting as pawns of Abbas.
I, however, see it differently. To refrain from fighting a fight that may well need to be fought to protect the people of Israel, because of a fear that we would be serving the goals of Abbas, would be short-sighted.
The solution lies in stopping short of taking Hamas down. Our goal in this war might be, rather, to chasten or diminish Hamas sufficiently so that it does not threaten Israel in any way for an extended period. This would increase deterrence not just at the Gaza border, but in the north as well. Right now, with regard to Gaza, our deterrence is shot.
There is certainly criticism of this approach: Been there, done that, and look where we are now. Just two years ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that if Hamas forces us to go to war, it will be their last war, because we will completely destroy them.
Intuitively, many of us agree, feeling that it is time to be done with Hamas and for Hamas leaders to get their due.
But it might well be that the daunting prospect of what would be involved in totally taking down Hamas – for it would require a considerable (albeit doable!) military battle, no matter how blithely some view it – inhibits any movement forward. Focus remains on the north and the possibility of having to do battle with Hezbollah and other forces there.
Israel is caught in a horrendous situation that presently offers up only imperfect solutions. That is our reality. A chastened and severely weakened Hamas in Gaza just might be the best of those imperfect solutions. We do not want Abbas in Gaza. In any event he would last for about 27 minutes before a terrorist group, as bad as or considerably worse than Hamas, would take him down. And we are not about to re-take Gaza permanently in the present circumstances.
On the other hand, simply shoring up Hamas in order to lessen humanitarian suffering in Gaza, in the hopes that this would bring a reduced level of violence, is not the best of moves. Hamas ideology is not moderated by humanitarian gestures. Rescuing Gaza from a situation of severe humanitarian crisis would provide Hamas the latitude to plan future attacks on Israel, in a manner and at a time of its choosing.
Yesterday Qatar brought six trucks carrying 450,000 liters of fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza. Additional trucks are scheduled to come through today.
The fuel will go to the Gaza power plant, affording Gazans an increase in electricity from four hours a day to six or even eight. It is anticipated that the $60 million Qatar is dedicating to this project will sustain the relief for some six months.
The trucks, which went into Gaza with the consent of Israel, and in response to appeals by the UN, circumvented the presence of the PA on the other side of the crossing. Abbas is fairly livid about this move.
As I have been speaking of anger, let me return to the issue of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.
This is not “just” about the rudeness and cruelty and impropriety of how he was treated, which was horrendous enough. Rather, it extends to a threat to the American system, something to be taken with the utmost seriousness and to be responded to with determined outrage.
This was not about Kavanaugh’s character, it was about left wing Democrats so set against allowing someone who represents a political orientation to the right of their own to ascend to the Court that they were prepared to break essential rules to achieve their goal. And so they substituted innuendo for fact, and refused to honor the American principle of considering someone innocent until proven guilty. They demonstrated no regard for due process.
There was screeching from the visitor’s gallery when the vote on Kavanaugh was taken; Vice President Pence, who presides over the Senate, had to ask ushers to clear the gallery several times. I heard, and I understood that those who were screeching were “snowflakes,” pathetically lacking inner stamina.
They are certain of their own moral rectitude and the superiority of their positions, but when confronted with the victory of someone representing an opposing position, they run the risk of melting.
They simply MUST have things their way. I have for some time now pondered what has happened to American society. This is not the America I grew up in.
For the record, I speak here as an American who still pays taxes and still votes.
Decency prevailed in the confirmation of Kavanaugh because of upright Republican Senators such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of S. Carolina. The nation owes them, and others who stood with them, a major debt of gratitude.
What concerns me now are the threats of left wing Democrats to continue to challenge Kavanaugh in the future. Oi v’voy if they attempt this.
I appeal to every American citizen reading this who understands the situation to get out and vote in November to ensure the continuation of a Republican Senate, and to spread the word broadly to others by all means possible – letters to the editor, talkbacks, dinner conversations, etc. – to do the same.
Lastly, a word about much beloved Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, who announced last night, in the course of a joint press conference with President Trump, that she would be stepping down at the end of the year.
The news was certainly a shocker, and seemed precipitous. Many within the American administration were unaware that this was going to happen.
But unless I find some solid evidence to back up various speculations as to what might be going on, I do not intend to explore them. The president did not fire her (why should he?!), nor did it seem there was ill will between the parties: not only was the announcement made jointly, he referred to her as a friend, and thanked her profusely, while she said she would be campaigning for him in 2020.
I see this resignation as her response to feeling burned-out. She spoke about the fact that she had had four stressful years as governor of S. Carolina, followed immediately by walking into the hostile environment of the UN. How could she NOT be drained and exhausted? There is no indication yet as to what she plans to do next.
Here in Israel, Nikki is fairly universally adored for her tough and articulate support of Israel in an institution that is adamantly anti-Israel.
Her style is inimical. After her appointment, she told the 2017 AIPAC convention:
“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we‘re going to kick them every time. So for anyone that says you cannot get anything done at the UN, you need to know there is a new sheriff in town.”
Wow! A good deal happened during her tenure: She regularly and vociferously criticized the UN’s anti-Israel bias; defended Trump’s decision to move the embassy; told PLO official Saeb Erekat, “I will not shut up”; walked out before a speech by the PLO envoy; openly critiqued UNRWA’s policy on refugee status; lobbied against the Human Rights Council’s Agenda 7, reserved for criticism of Israel, and ultimately pulled out of the Council on behalf of the US, just as she pulled out of UNESCO on behalf of the US.
On my own behalf, I express heartfelt gratitude to Nikki Haley and wishes for her success in the future.
There is already considerable speculation as to who will follow Nikki. Several analysts have rushed to remind us that, as special as Nikki Haley is, she has not been acting on her own initiative, but has been taking direction from the president of the United States, who will continue to provide such direction to his next ambassador. What is more, there are several officials at a high level in the administration who are solidly pro-Israel: including John Bolton, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and, of course, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
It is reasonable, then, to hope and expect that the next US ambassador to the UN will also be solidly pro-Israel. We shall see.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.