UPDATE: (7:58 am Saturday): Massive missile attack continues this morning. The residents of Ashdod have been in bomb shelters most of the night with 7 different warning alarms. The following communities have been hit: (6:05 am) Ashdod, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Malachi; (6:07 am) Three explosions in Ashkelon; (6:27 am) Ofakim; (6:41 am) Ofakim; (6:48 am) Ashdod; (6:50 am) Badsklon; (7:17 am) Ashdod; (7:39 am) Gadera; (7:57 am) Beersheva.
UPDATE: (3:30 am Saturday): Missile fire continues. Despite having the Iron Dome, a building has just been hit in Beersheva at 3:16. Also there are reports of a building destroyed in Ashkelon. Since the last update, Ashdod, (12:30), Nahal Sorek (12:31) Kiryat Malachi and Gan Yavne, (12:37) Ashdod, (1:04) Beersheva, (1:16) Gedera have all been warned of impending rockets. At least eight missile strikes recorded since 12:30 am.–42 total missiles since 6:48 Friday evening.
UPDATE: (12:30 am Saturday): Missile fire still being reported in areas near Gaza. Eight Israelis reported injured–one critically by shrapnel. This will be the last israelstreet update until 3 am unless events warrant.
UPDATE: (11:30 pm Friday): Intense missile fire continues. In the last 30 minutes, the northern Negev and Ashkelon hit by multiple rockets bringing to 30 the total number of rockets fired since 6:43 tonight.
UPDATE: (11:00 pm Friday): 27 rockets have been fired at the citizens of southern Israel in the last 4 hours. At least 4 people have been injured. Two Grad rockets were just intercepted over Ashdod. The following cities and communities have been hit in the last 30 minutes: Sha’ar Hanagev, Kibbutz Beeri, Gilat, Beersheva, Ofakim.
UPDATE: (10:30 pm Friday): Southern Israel continues under missile attack. Six missiles in the last hour. (10:21 pm): 3 rockets fired toward southern cities, two intercepted. (9:55 pm): Explosions heard in Ashkelon and Gedera. (9:54 pm): Incoming rocket alarm for Ashdod. (9:32 pm) Rockets strike Eshkol region.
UPDATE (9:30 pm Friday):At least 11 missiles fired from the Palestinian Hamas terrorists in Gaza have struck Israel in the last two hours. All residents of southern Israel have been ordered to stay close to home, and all children’s events have been canceled. (9:20 pm): Incoming rocket alert sirens for Eshkol region. (9:01 pm): Incoming rocket sirens for Eshkol and Chof Ashkelon regions. (8:47 pm): Incoming rocket sirens for Ashkelon–one strike recorded. (8:26 pm): Ashkelon struck by rockets. (7:52 pm): Sirens all over the south. (7:42 pm): Ashkelon struck by rockets. (6:43 pm): Incoming rocket sirens for western Negev.
UPDATE: (5:00 pm Friday): The last hour and a half has seen two more mortar shells fired into the southern Israel’s Eshkol region at 3:47 pm. Less than twenty minutes ago at 4:41 pm, it has been reported by IDF and terrorist Hamas sources that a car carrying two senior terrorists was hit by a missile fired from an IAF jet.
Both terrorists were killed. This follows a week in which the IDF did nothing to staunch the rocket fire from Gaza. The new tune from the IDF this morning is that even if the rockets do not physically injure anyone, “they sow fear that must be stopped.” That’s what your humble servant has been saying for years.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended a meeting at Mrak Hall (the administration building) on the University of Davis, California campus. The meeting was requested by representatives of StandWithUs who were involved in the program on February 27th during which an attempt was made to prevent two Israelis from speaking, a 28 year old male reservist and a young female Druze community worker (one of the hats your humble servant wears in the U.S. is being a member of the steering committee of the local SWU chapter) .
We asked for the meeting because we felt that letters being sent to us and published to the community by University of California President Mark Yudof, UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi, UCD Provost and Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, and UCD Vice Chancellors Meyer and Reed were factually inaccurate, particularly insofar as the role of the police was concerned. Whereas these letters indicated that the police had acted in a timely fashion to stop the main disruptor, my own analysis of the video of the event revealed that the police had waited for over 20 minutes to “intervene”.
More than this, we had learned during the week that the main disruptor, a student named Tirumular (Drew) Narayanan is in fact an employee of the UCD Campus Police who often works as a “Cal Aggie Host.” This is the same disruptor who repeatedly hurled “rapist and child molester” insults at the first speaker during the aforementioned 20 minutes.
The meeting was chaired by UCD Provost Ralph Hexter with UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi making a brief appearance at the beginning. There were three other UCD officials in attendance including Steven Drown (Campus Counsel), Barry Schiller (Interim Executive Director of Strategic Communications), and a representative from Vice Chancellor John Meyer’s office. The Executive Vice Chancellor of Campus Community Relations, Rahim Reed, was present for most of the meeting by phone. Our group included eight members (whose names will not be given here); in addition, two members of the Jewish Studies Department were invited.
The meeting began with Chancellor Katehi offering brief and facile generalizations about the anxiety caused to students by events in the Middle East. She then left without taking questions and turned the meeting over to the Provost.
Provost Hexter politely asked how we wanted to proceed. Two of our members then presented our concerns. We began by thanking the administration for meeting with us on such short notice, then focused on the main disruptor, the role of the Students for Justice in Palestine in trying to disrupt the event, the inaction of the police, the vague guidelines issued by the University to deal with such events, and the lack of any enforcement capacity in those guidelines.
What followed was a robust give and take, with Provost Hexter and Counsel Drown listening attentively, taking notes, and making comments as appropriate. Both sides learned facts that we hadn’t known.
On our side, we learned that Provost Hexter had not been called to the site until well after the program had begun–and in fact, did not arrive until the main disruptor had left the room. We also learned that Acting Campus Police Chief Carmichael had not come at all. On their side, the timeline of what occurred in the room as well as the extent of the role of the Students For Justice in Palestine in the event were apparently not known.
By the time the meeting ended, we learned that the university is referring the case of the main disruptor, Mr. Narayanan, to our local District Attorney this morning and that the role of the Students For Justice In Palestine in disrupting the event will be further explored (we also learned other information that I am not at liberty to disclose).
In addition, we accepted Provost Hexter’s invitation to another meeting to specifically discuss guidelines for future events and possible means of enforcement.
Some other issues that we will pursue are a recognition by the Administration that this was a “hate” incident–particularly insofar as the Campus Community Relations Office needs to recognize this fact. Also, we still do not have an adequate answer as to why the police at the event allowed the disruptions to continue for so long. And there has not been sufficient discussion of the other disruptions that took place in the room.
Nevertheless, without delving into the UCD Administration’s motivations–and as one who has strongly criticized the UCD Administration for its inaction, I felt that the Administration was making an effort to address our concerns through concrete and timely actions. We will see if this optimism is justified in the coming weeks and months.