Not unexpected — what we’re dealing with now, but our Defense Minister, Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, is going to need all the strength he can muster. Just as the government more broadly — and certainly the Security Cabinet — will require stiff backbones and clear-eyed determination.
There is the situation in Syria. I had written in my last post about shooting over the border from Syria (presumed in that case. at least, not to be accidental), to which the IDF responded. Well, it happened again, twice on Tuesday, with light fire aimed at an IDF patrol and then a mortar that landed in the Golan. The IDF responded with tank shells aimed near Tel Hazeka, which were said to have “accurately targeted the source” of the fire.
This is Israeli policy. The situation is likely to continue and who knows what may come next.
Then there’s the situation in Gaza. Again. Yesterday two rockets were launched at Sderot, just at the time parents were bringing their young children to schools and kindergartens. There is little more contemptible than this.
Last night, the Israeli Air Force hit two targets in Gaza — the first time since the end of Pillar of Defense. Ya’alon declared that Israel “won’t allow any routine involving a drizzle of rockets at our civilians and forces.”
A drizzle of rockets. That is precisely what has been tolerated in the past. Well, it’s probably not Hamas, it’s just a renegade group. Well, it’s just one time, not necessarily wise to respond to that. Etc. Etc. If he means what he is saying and sticks to it — conveying a no-tolerance-for-rockets policy — it would change the situation. If.
PM Netanyahu echoed this sentiment, saying, “If the quiet is violated, we will respond strongly.” But then, if memory serves me correctly, he has said this before.
It was appropriate that Ya’alon indicated that Hamas would be held responsible, no matter who launches the rockets — cutting Hamas no slack.
And yet…wouldn’t you know, UN envoy Robert Serry (be sure: no friend to Israel) issued a condemnation of the firing of rockets on civilians, but “calls on Israel to act with restraint.” Translation: Be sitting ducks, because if the situation heats up we’ll say it was your fault.
In addition to all of this…there’s the situation with the Palestinian Arabs.
Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, was serving a life sentence in prison in Israel because of his part in an attempted 2002 terror attack on the Caffit restaurant in Jerusalem’s German Colony. Maissara had esophageal cancer and, two days ago, died in Soroka Hospital — not, you will note, in a clinic in the prison where he had been held. .
But, since the Palestinian Arabs — our “peace partners” — never miss a chance to cause a furor, they began to riot over the “wrongful death” of this “hero” and “martyr.” Shameless that they can call him this — it tells us a lot about who they are. People DO die of cancer, But no, as they would have it, it was Israel’s fault that he died. The charge — adamantly refuted by Israel — is that he was denied proper treatment
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday:
“Palestinians who are imprisoned in Israel have access to excellent medical care, and are allowed visits by International Committee of the Red Cross officials. Prisoners in Palestinian Authority prisons do not enjoy such conditions.”
The rioting started in the prisons and spread. Last night, Molotov cocktails were thrown at IDF soldiers at a guard station near Tulkarem; 200 Arabs rioted in Hevron, where they threw stones and large numbers of Molotov cocktails; stones were thrown at security forces near the communities of Migdal Oz and Efrat; Arabs clashed with the IDF near Nablus, at the Hawara checkpoint (a hot spot).
Today, the funeral of Abu Hamdiyeh was held in Hevron, and, as might be expected, the rioting increased.
In addition, two young men were killed by the IDF in the course of the rioting near Tulkarem. The IDF says that the soldiers involved followed the rules of engagement properly: they felt their lives were threatened by firebombs thrown at them, and then responded with live fire. The funerals of the two were held today in Tulkarem. More opportunity for rioting with thousands in the streets. Firebombing, clashes with IDF soldiers, tires burning.
See Khaled Abu Toameh on “PA grandstanding on prisoners self-defeating” (emphasis added):
“Once again, the Palestinian Authority is using the issue of Palestinian prisoners to unleash a wave of strong condemnations against Israel.
“For the PA, the death of a Palestinian in an Israeli prison is a golden opportunity to bring the case of Palestinian prisoners to the world’s attention.
“Over the past few years, the PA leadership has placed the issue of the prisoners at the top of its list of priorities.
“The release of Palestinian prisoners has even become one of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s conditions for resuming peace talks with Israel.
“…Abbas has been forced to move the issue of the prisoners to the top of his list of priorities mainly due to increased pressure and criticism from the Palestinian public.
“…Many Palestinians have also been criticizing Abbas and his aides for failing to do more to end the ‘plight’ of the inmates, whom they consider ‘prisoners of war.’
“In a bid to prove to Palestinians that it is taking the issue seriously, the PA leadership has set up a ministry for prisoners affairs headed by Issa Qaraqi, who in the past few years has been waging a relentless campaign against Israel on the issue of the prisoners.
“Qaraqi has consistently accused Israel of mistreating and torturing Palestinian prisoners.
“He has also accused Israel of conducting experiments on some prisoners and denying them proper medical care, as well as stealing their organs.
“…The strong attacks on Israel are primarily aimed at showing the Palestinian public that the PA leadership does care about the prisoners.
“But these attacks are also intensifying tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and paving the way for violence.
“By making serious allegations against Israel, the PA is further radicalizing Palestinians and even driving some of them into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide was here in Israel yesterday, and expressing his anger against the PA because it had lied to the Norwegian foreign ministry regarding how it was using donations from Norway. Seems some of that money has gone to pay the “salaries” of convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. A clarification is now being sought. See the story here:
It was the Palestinian Media Watch that uncovered the story of how Norwegian funds were being used by the PA, and it has uncovered another interesting story as well:
“After the UN vote in November 2012, the PA built a monument in a central square in Bethlehem called ‘The State Monument,’ which shows the State of Palestine.’ However, the model of ‘Palestine’ also includes all of Israel, thereby erasing it completely. The monument celebrates the UN vote on statehood as well as the first PLO/Fatah terror attack against Israel in 1965, which is seen as the beginning of the Palestinian ‘revolution’ and Fatah’s anniversary date.
“It turned out that the monument was on President Obama’s route in Bethlehem, so in order to prevent him from seeing it, the PA had the monument removed before he arrived, the official PA daily reported.”
All of this Palestinian Arab duplicity. Note it, talk about it. It is what keeps so many supporting the PA.
This week, however, there was a major legal victory with regard Arab violence against Israeli civilians.
Anyone with an honest eye has been able to perceive that rock throwing can be lethal. But it has been downplayed. Kids. Throwing stones. No, not stones, but rocks and boulders and chunks of concrete. Weapons.
In September 2011, Asher Palmer was driving with his infant son in his car on a highway near his Kiryat Arba home when a large rock (a block, actually, 18 x 11 x 5 centimeters) was thrown at his windshield by Waal al-Arjeh who was in a vehicle passing in the other direction. The rock caused the windshield to shatter and knocked Asher unconscious. The car ran off the road and overturned. Asher and his son, Yonaton, were killed.
Now, after a long trial, the Judea Military Court, located at the prison at Ofer, has found al-Arjeh guilty of murder. This sets a precedent. Never before has a court charged a Palestinian Arab with murder for stone-throwing, the first time that stone has been considered a lethal weapon.
There were some very specific parameters here. Al-Arjeh was part of a gang formed with intent to kill Jews and had practiced many times, without actually killing anyone before the Ashers. He was also charged with 25 counts of attempted murder because of this “practice.”
I will add this in passing, which should be duly noted: At one time al-Arjeh worked for the PA security forces.
And, boy, are we lucky: Secretary of State John Kerry is coming back here. First he’ll stop in Turkey, presumably to get Erdogan to make nice. Then he’ll come to Jerusalem, and, subsequently, Ramallah.
Said a State Department spokeswoman:
“The secretary is committed to using his strong relationships with both [Israeli and Palestinian] leaders to encourage them to be open, to be creative, to be prepared for compromises and to work hard to build trust between them.”
Sigh… Trust? Trust the people I’ve been describing above? It is my clear understanding that Kerry will be looking for “confidence-building measures.” Of Israel, of course. Like, maybe, release some prisoners.
What we should offer the PA to come to the table is zilch, zero, effes. If they sincerely want peace, let them come to the table. If not, not.
With all I’ve discussed here today, I cannot end without a mention of Iran. And, once again, on this subject, I say without reservation that PM Netanyahu gets it right when the rest of the world has got it decidedly wrong.
For example, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (is she smoking something?) says she is “cautiously optimistic” about talks between Iran and P5 + 1 scheduled for tomorrow in Kazakhstan.
Commenting on these talks Netanyahu yesterday said:
“This model of a country talking, but at the same time developing nuclear weapons; threatening and at the same time developing nuclear weapons and threatening the use of nuclear weapons, we cannot allow this to happen in Iran. There are many issues in the Middle East, the issues between us and the Palestinians and our quest for peace, there are regional issues, but I think they will be overshadowed if Iran believes it has a license to develop atomic weapons [and continues weapons development]. We have to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
So he’s got it right and says it right. Whether we’ll see more from him on this than words is anyone’s guess at this point.
The fence at the border with Sinai has been completed for a while now. And so this front is quiet. Last January, over 2,000 infiltrators crossed the border, and last February, more than 1,000. But this January and February has seen only 10 and five, respectively.