UPDATES 8 am Israel time, Friday, November 1 2013:
*Israeli military and political circles are agog this morning over the “anonymous CIA spokesman” revealing last evening that Israel carried out the attack on the Syrian missile base near Latakia, Syria early yesterday. Apparently, the attack targeted Russian SAM-8 missiles.
The Israelis simply cannot understand why the Americans would almost encourage Syria to retaliate against Israel.
To your humble servant, there is no mystery at all. The Obama White House has no coherent Middle East strategy and no conception whatsoever of the ramifications of its actions. On Wednesday, Israeli naval officers were touring the U.S.S. Stout off the coast of Latakia; on Thursday the U.S. was throwing Israel under the bus. What could be more representative of U.S. actions in the region?
*Meanwhile in Washington yesterday there was more of the same. Following his thinly disguised blast at PM Netanyahu at Washington’s Institute for Peace the other night, John Kerry was busy lobbying members of the U.S. Senate to delay a bill that would increase sanctions on Iran.
State Department apologist and spokeswoman Jen Psaki awkwardly characterized Kerry’s actions in this way: “We asked for a pause, to provide flexibility, of new sanctions. We believe that congressional action needs to be aligned with our negotiating strategy.”
Translated: “Let’s give the Iranians a break and cut them some slack. Whatever we do, we should not pass new sanctions because tightening the noose around Tehran’s neck will hurt our negotiating strategy.”
As if the U.S. has a negotiating strategy.
*Employing the time-honored Palestinian tactic of threatening to resign, resigning, and unresigning patented by Mahmoud Abbas, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and his staff threatened to resign yesterday over Netanyahu’s latest announcement about future construction in Jerusalem.
Then Erekat sent a letter to Abbas containing his resignation. By this morning, Erekat has unresigned claiming that the earlier Palestinian reports of his resignation were “overstated.”
The entire Erekat situation is hilarious. Erekat is “chief Palestinian negotiator for life”; just like Israel’s chief “negotiator” Tzipi Livni, Erekat loves the high life with fancy clothes, expensive homes, and shmoozing with the “stars”. He would no more resign than would Livni.
A serious terrorist incident began about 8 hours ago on the Gaza Border and is continuing to unfold at this hour. Reports are still sketchy, but the sequence of events appears to have been:
1. Soldiers of the Yahalom Unit of the IDF’s Corps of Engineers were operating around midnight in the huge tunnel that was discovered several weeks ago leading from Gaza into southern Israel. The purpose of their mission was to blow up the tunnel completely.
2. After about two hours of activity, Hamas terrorists in the area detonated an IED. Five IDF soldiers were wounded including an officer. One soldier suffered a critical wound in the head. All soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva.
3. Following the detonation, the IDF force opened fire and IDF helicopters were dispatched to the scene. In the ensuing firefight, according to Hamas sources, three of its “fighters” were killed and two others were wounded by an IDF tank shell.
4. At around 6:00 this morning–about 2 hours ago–the IAF attacked Hamas “positions” in Gaza.
5. At 6:47 am, two missile impact explosions in the Chof Ashkelon region 5 km away rattled our windows here in far south Ashdod.
The irony of this extended incident is that the IDF completely pulled its forces out of all Israeli border communities yesterday. This morning, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, Alon Shuster, correctly noted: “The last IDF soldier left yesterday. Should they have left? The facts last night speak for themselves.”
Indeed they do. It was a mistake for the IDF to pull out of the border communities, and now, as always, southern Israelis will pay the price.