UPDATES 5 pm Israel time, Thursday, March 13 2014:
**112 missiles and mortars have been fired at southern Israel since 4:45 pm on Tuesday.**
However, it appears that the latest round of missile and mortar barrages against southern Israel has come “to a halt.” Of course, “come to a halt” means that we will immediately return to the ridiculous situation in which “only 2 or 3 missiles will be fired at Israeli children, women, and men each day.
So many missiles and mortars have been fired in the last 48 hours that each news source is reporting a different number. Nevertheless, based on individual reports on the ground, it appears that southern Israel has been rocked by at least 112 missiles and mortars during this time period. As always, the IDF has grossly understated the extent of the attacks as have Israeli newspapers and television channels.
Israeli blustering has reached new heights of absurdity with endless threats against Hamas and Islamic Jihad streaming out of PM Netanyahu’s office, and calls from Israeli politicians from Lieberman to Steinetz to “retake” Gaza. IDF responsiveness has been lackluster as usual with smuggling tunnels, launching pads, empty buildings, and open fields being hit by IAF aircraft. No Palestinian terrorists have been wounded or killed as Israelis have run for their lives to their bomb shelters and fortified places.
Here’s a recap of the morning and afternoon (so far):
8:08 am: Two mortars were fired by Palestinian terrorists into the Eshkol region.
10:29 am: Incoming rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon, Yavne, Rehovot, Ashdod, and Givat Brenner. 3 Israelis injured when they ran to protected areas to escape from the missile salvos.
10:52 am: Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced they are not interested in an escalation of hostilities.
11:40 am: More mortars fired by Palestinian terrorists at southern Israel.
2:13 pm: Israel and Islamic Jihad reach ceasefire with Egyptian mediation. Israel denies (as always) that a ceasefire has been reached, but no more mortars and missiles have been fired in the last two hours.
*The Jordanian Parliament approved the release today of the Jordanian “soldier” who massacred 7 Israeli schoolgirls and critically wounded 5 others on March 13, 1997. That release must still be approved by King Abdullah.
*Three hugely important laws were passed in the Knesset Tuesday in their final readings:
First, the Referendum Law has become a Basic Law. Unless 81 of the Knesset’s 120 members ratify the withdrawal of Israel from areas of Israeli sovereignty (including the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem–but not Judea and Samaria), such a withdrawal must be approved by a public referendum. By making the Referendum Law a Basic Law, it cannot be overturned by the Israel Supreme Court.
Second, the Governance Law was passed which will raise the election threshold from 2% to 3.5% in order to have Knesset representation. By increasing the threshold, the chance of many smaller parties to have seats in the Knesset is greatly reduced. Whether this enhances or degrades democracy depends on one’s perspective. It certainly reduces the power of smaller parties to place a stranglehold on the government.
Third, the Draft Law (also called the “Equal Service Bill”) was passed by the Knesset. The Law sets targets for the enlistment in national service for the ultra-orthodox over the next three years–and criminal penalties if the ultra-orthodox attempt to dodge service.