NOTE: Today’s Blog also appears in today,s “The Times of Israel”
UPDATES 4:00 pm Israel time, Wednesday, August 27 2014:
**We may never know how many missiles and mortars were fired at southern Israel yesterday. All we know is that during some 15 minute intervals, 30 or more exploded. The best we can say here on israelstreet is that at least 230 exploded above or in Israel.
**If you can believe this, it has been a mere 21 hours since the ceasefire went into effect, and the IDF is already withdrawing from the Gaza border communities. This is the 11th ceasefire–and each of the previous 10 were quickly broken by Hamas, yet Gantz and company are pulling up stakes.
And the government wants people in the South to return to their homes?
**Read this and tell your humble servant if it sounds familiar. There has been an outbreak of mortar fire directed against Israel on the Golan Heights in the last 24 hours–all coming from the area around Qunetra.
The IDF is very proud to say that it has responded by firing 18 artillery shells back at Syria.
Oh yes, and the IDF has warned all residents living within a few kilometers of the border to stay close to fortified areas–and it has warned Israeli farmers not to venture out into their fields.
This is precisely the sequence of events that we had at the beginning of the recent conflict with Hamas.
It has been a wild night of celebrations in Gaza, in Yaffo, and in other Arab locations. As Hamas rightly noted last night at 7 pm, it has decisively won the latest war with Israel.
No matter how hard the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem tries to spin Israel’s “achievements” in the coming days, here are the facts:
1. Israel’s three main goals in this war were not even remotely achieved.
*Elimination of missiles and bringing quiet to southern Israel: Hamas was firing more missiles and mortars into Israel at the end of the 50 day campaign than they were at the beginning. There is no longer even the illusion of quiet and security in southern Israel.
*Elimination of the tunnels: Hamas remains in firm control of its elaborate tunnel network. Who knows how many tunnels still exist running under the communities of the Gaza border? Certainly not Israel. More than this, who knows anything about the vast network of tunnels inside Gaza? Certainly not Israel.
*Demilitarization of Gaza: The agreement that Israel signed on to yesterday does not even suggest the word “demilitarization”.
2. Hamas’ major achievements on the other hand were impressive:
*Ending Israel’s deterrence: Hamas has vividly shown to the world that Israel possesses no deterrence. Not only can Israel not stop Hamas from shooting missiles at Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, Israel also cannot stop Hamas from firing hundreds of mortars into the Israeli border communities. What do you think this situation says to Iran? or Hezbollah? or ISIS? or any other threat on our borders?
*Depopulation: Hamas succeeded in virtually depopulating a large swath of Israel within 7 km of the Gaza border. In the last week, Hamas has crowed that it will next turn its attention to depopulating Ashkelon. Who is to stop them from trying to do so?
*Closure of Ben Gurion Airport: At the outset of this war, Ben Gurion remained open under the umbrella of defense afforded by the Iron Dome system. Then when a missile was shot down within a mile of the airport, airlines suspended flights. By the end of the war, Israel was suspending flights when it thought that Hamas “might” shoot. In essence, Hamas can now close down Ben Gurion at will.
*Legitimization of itself: Hamas has completely legitimized itself in the eyes of the world and put itself on equal footing with Israel. At the outset of the war, Hamas was a desperate organization on the ropes because of Egypt’s forceful actions against it. Look at it now.
*Delegitimization of Israel: With the help of countries like Turkey and Qatar, and the assistance of the PLO in venues like the International Criminal Court, the movement toward toward delegitimizing Israel will quickly gather speed.
*Victimization: With the help of Qatar’s Aljazeera and other international media outlets, the whole world now thinks of Gaza as the victim of Israeli aggression–not as the perpetrator of aggression against Israel.
In sum, whom do we have to thank for this sorry state of affairs?
PM Netanyahu proved himself singularly unable to rise to the occasion. At one crucial moment after another, he was unable to make a decision except for one–the final decision to capitulate and accept the ceasefire. That decision apparently was his alone. This morning, Naftali Bennett has blasted Netanyahu for not even bringing the ceasefire to the security cabinet for consideration–instead King Bibi informed everyone by phone of his decision.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also shrank into nothingness during the 50 days of fighting. By the end of the war, he was afraid to go to Nahal Oz because he might put himself in personal danger.
IDF Chief Benny Gantz and his General Command formulated a worthless strategy of blowing up empty houses and buildings and open spaces. 64 of his brave soldiers died–and for what? It is worth noting that the final IDF act of the campaign was blowing up yet another empty house of a Hamas leader–and Gantz’s final act was joining Ya’alon by cravenly deciding not to go to Nahal Oz.
When the history of this conflict is written, Netanyahu, Ya’alon, and Gantz will all go down as abysmal failures and disgraces to this country and its people.
We all deserved better, but most especially the 69 Israelis who died in this war–including the two civilians in the Gaza perimeter region who were killed by mortar fire yesterday afternoon.
Israel finds itself this morning more vulnerable than ever before, and we Israelis now live with the knowledge that we live at the whim of Hamas which will resume shooting missiles and mortars at us whenever they feel like it.