UPDATES 8:00 pm:
**As you can tell from the israelstreet breaking news ticker, there has been no Hamas missile fire or terrorist tunnel attacks since 8:00 am this morning. Despite this fact, if you can imagine what this augurs for the future, Ben Gurion airport was closed for almost an hour and a half this morning because of “the fear of Hamas missiles.”
Israeli reservists are being released from duty on Friday, but regular IDF troops remain arrayed on the border with Gaza.
According to reports from throughout the South and elsewhere, some 350 Israeli homes were hit by missile fire during the last month (did you read about this anywhere in the media?). The cost of repairs will be some $100 million shekels. Add to this another $100 million shekels for farmers, and hundreds of millions more in business losses, and you begin to get some hint of the cost to Israel of these last 30 days.
Yet none of these expenses was on IDF Chief Benny Gantz’s mind today. According to Gantz, the first priority of the IDF is to . . . . hold your breath . . . “help rebuild the Gaza Strip.”
Yes, you read that right. And your humble servant still cannot believe it. More on Gantz’s unbelievable statement tomorrow.
**As your humble servant alluded to this morning, last night was one of the most exhilarating evenings that I have spent in some time. It was particularly wonderful given the depressing news about Israel not finishing the job in Gaza.
One particularly proud participant:
After being at the Kotel (Western Wall) for several hours and watching the thousands of mourners flood into the plaza and tunnels to lament the destroyed First and Second Temples–the destruction of both took place on Tisha B’Av–, we went back into the city at 10:00 pm to get to Independence Park, the starting point of the annual Tisha B’Av march organized by the Women in Green.
For those of you unaware of this organization, allow me to quote from their website: “Our movement is dedicated to safeguarding our G-d given Biblical Homeland. We are popularly known as “the Women in Green” because of the green hats we sometimes wear to show our opposition to the abandonment of parts of our homeland and against the return of Israel to the “Green Line”, the pre-1967 borders.”
So at 10:30 pm, we arrived at the Park–which already was a sea of Israeli flags. We were informed by Women in Green spokeswoman Nadia Matar that unfortunately, because of situation in Jerusalem yesterday, the route of the march had been changed by the Israeli police. We would not be able to march around outside of the Old City walls of the Muslim quarter, but would need to enter on the Armenian quarter side and march up to the Zion Gate.
There were thousands of people in the Park, and almost immediately, we started off through the streets–down Gershon Agron, and then straight towards the Old City. The marchers stretched out for almost half a mile, and everyone was singing songs such as Am Israel Chai. As I said before, virtually everyone had an Israeli flag.
Once we got to the Old City, we started downhill past the Sultan’s pool until we got to the road leading up past the Armenian Quarter. All along the way through the humid yet glowing night, Nadia moved through the crowd with her loudspeaker asking where everyone was from. Some of the responses were (ones that I can remember): Guatemala, Switerzerland, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Seattle, London, Chicago, Amsterday, Brussels, Russia, Uzbekistan, Germany (a whole contingent), Mexico, Toronto, Paris, Argentina, India, China, Japan, Spain–and of course a whole host of Israeli towns and cities. We were very proud to yell out “Ashdod”!
The sheer feeling of comraderie as we all marched along was electric. We were all there to support Israel in a time of trouble. We were all there to support a strong Israel that kowtows to no one. We were all there to express our enduring belief in the land of Israel.
By 11:30 pm we had climbed to the top of the hill to the bullet-riddled Zion gate where we stopped for a few minutes to hear stirring words from Nadia and Orit Struck (Jewish Home representative from Hebron). Both of them were amazing as they adamantly expressed their support for this country.
Then, it was back down to the Kotel through the Dung Gate–arriving just after midnight.
The experience was intense and exciting. Next year, you should be in Jerusalem for the march. You will not forget it.
UPDATES 9:00 am:
Situation on the ground:
81 missiles were fired into Israel yesterday–with no response whatsoever from the IDF as Israel continued its unilateral ceasefire. The missile firing continued throughout the night and on into this morning–with a burst fired at all points south of Tel Aviv between 7:50 and 8:00 am (one hour ago) when the next “ceasefire” went into effect. We even felt and heard a loud aerial explosion over Jerusalem this morning at 7:59 that rattled the breakfast room of the King David Hotel.
So why has Hamas apparently signed on to a ceasefire this morning? That’s easy. Israel capitulated and agreed to Hamas’ primary demand–the removal of all Israeli soldiers from Gaza.
Now begins the process of total Israeli capitulation.
Think about the red lines already crossed.
1. PM Netanyahu: “We will bring quiet to the communities in the South.”
What began as a war to bring quiet to the residents of the South who have been bombarded with thousands of mortars and missiles over the last decade, has come to an end with Hamas still firing 100 missiles and mortars into the South everyday.
So what do we have to look forward to? In short order, the situation will return to what it has been during the last two years since November 2012. By next week or sooner, Hamas will begin firing one or two missiles every couple of days–perhaps 4 or 5 per week–at the communities in the south. The Netanyahu government will pat itself on the back for “relative quiet”, and for the rest of the country, the South will gradually fade off the radar.
2. PM Netanyahu: “We will bring security to the communities in the South.”
What evolved into a war to eliminate all the tunnels coming into Israel has ended with PM Netanyahu and the IDF declaring that there is no way for the IDF to eliminate all of the tunnels. (Of course, there was a way–but it would have taken longer that Netanyahu was willing to spend).
3. PM Netanyahu and the Security Cabinet: “We will not be sending representatives to Cairo to discuss terms for a ceasefire.”
What did Israel announce last night? You guessed it. We are sending representatives to Cairo either today or tomorrow to discuss terms for the ceasefire.
So, let’s take a moment and predict what is to come–all of which will be in response to Hamas demands as Israel capitulates to one after another:
–a release of the Shalit terrorists: Hamas wants the Shalit exchange prisoners that were rearrested a few months ago because of their continued terror activity in Judea and Samaria released. Israel will quickly cave in.
–a release of the 4th and final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners that Israel refused to release back during the “negotiations” with Mahmoud Abbas. Israel will cave in.
–the opening of crossings into Israel: there are 5 crossings into Israel. The Kerem Shalom crossing is already “open” for “humanitarian” transport. Look for Israel to cave in to more openings.
–the sea blockade: Hamas wants a lifting of the sea blockade so that it can easily receive weapons from Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. Look for Israel to cave in over the course of the next few months. By the way, another Turkish fauxtilla is currently sailing toward Gaza. Let’s see if Israel lets it through.
The bottom line is that if all the Hamas leaders demanded that they receive a piece of chocolate on their pillows every night, Israel would rush to do it.
And what about the Israel’s demand that Gaza be demilitarized? Your humble servant only has one thing to say: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
And yet despite all of your humble servant’s massive disappointment that Netanyahu and the Israeli security cabinet did not have the courage to finish the job, I find myself sitting here in Jerusalem this morning looking at the Old City walls on Tisha B’Av and feeling strangely exhilarated.
After all, we are still here in our land after 3300 years–and the events of last night in our march around Jerusalem were thrilling.
More about that in our next update this afternoon.