Sunday, November 18, 2012

Long range missiles

The use by Hamas of long range missiles, over 70 km, that reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was called a "game changer" by some corespondents.  It not only indicates that Hamas is over-reaching, in order to show its capability to threaten Israel, but it brought home to half of Israel's population that they too can come under attack and this will undoubtedly have consequences.  It will provide popular support for a ground operation in Gaza to find and destroy all missiles.  It may also guarantee a victory for PM Netanyahu in the upcoming elections and may bring the most right-wing government into power in Israel's history.  So the attacks on Israel's major cities may boomerang on the terrorists.
And what did Hamas actually gain by targeting these cities with a few missiles?  No-one was killed or even injured by the missiles on these major cities.  The latest of the missiles were intercepted by the new Iron Dome battery that was installed near Tel Aviv to protect the central area of Israel.  The non-targetable missiles near Tel Aviv fell into the Mediterranean sea and those directed to Jerusalem fell far to the south in the settlement of Etzion and to a nearby Arab village.  Many may not know that Etzion was one of the few Israeli settlements that were captured by the Arabs in 1947 and was completely demolished by them, down to the foundations, including the uprooting of all "Zionist" trees.  After the victory of 1967 when the area of the so-called West Bank (in fact Judea) was recaptured by Israel, the Etzion bloc, consisting of three kibbutzim on land of which had been legally bought by Jews from the 1920s, were re-settled by the surviving children of the original settlers.  They have rebuilt thriving settlements there as well as nearby suburbs of Jerusalem.  No-one in Israel is willing to give the Etzion bloc up to be destroyed again.
Israel is quite capable of fighting a two- or even three-border war, as it did in 1967 (against Egypt, Syria and Jordan).  But, of course its better not to have to do that.  If things work out then Israel may only have to fight Hamas in Gaza, because Syria is not capable of fighting a war now that it is itself involved in a civil war and neither side will want to squander its precious munitions on a losing battle with Israel.  Also, Hizbollah in Lebanon, with its arsenal of over 10,000 missiles, will not want to get involved against Israel, since it is totally distracted and may need its armaments to support Syria and indeed its own position in Lebanon.  There is an additional factor that cannot be ignored, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Shia fundamentalists in Iran and in south Lebanon are intractable enemies.  The Iranian regime that controls Hizbollah will not want to support the Sunni fundamentalists and may even hope for an Israeli vcicitry against their own Muslim enemy, the better to triumph over Israel in the future.  Also, they may worry that an attack by Hizbollah on Israel might trigger an Israeli attack on Iran itself, for which they are not yet prepared. Meanwhile missiles continue to rain down on southern Israel, hitting houses and causing injuries.  So this may be a historic juncture when the IDF can focus on one enemy and hopefully defeat it utterly.
Last night the Hamas government building in Gaza City, where Ismail Haniyeh has his ofice, was destroyed completely by IAF attacks. At present there is talk of a ceasefire from a  meeting of Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Qatar being held in Cairo.  PM Netnayahu has basically said that if Hamas does not stop its missile fire completely and agree to a complete and extended ceasefire then the IDF will launch its ground attack into Gaza.  This is what is called reestablishing Israeli deterrance.  However, in either case such an agreement cannot be expected to last for a long time.


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