Only the cynics are happy.

Friday morning everyone was claiming credit for the cease-fire.

John Kerry and Ban-Ki Moon were claiming primary authorship, and generous to note the contributions of Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar.

The Palestinians of Gaza and Israelis were touting their accomplishments, and being equally threatening in promising reprisal for any violation of the cease fire.

UNRWA personnel were dreaming about another 60 years of budgets to care for Palestinians, now refugees who fled from their homes within Gaza. UNRWA will rebuild schools and clinics, where they can allow the refugees to store their weapons, with school yards from which to fire rockets toward Israel.

Doubters are happy because the 72 hour cease-fire lasted two hours and four minutes until the first warning of a missile heading for Israel.

Two hours later, the count of dead Palestinians resulting from Israel''s response had reached 20; by day''s end it was somewhere between 50 and 100; and by Saturday morning it was at or beyond 150.

The IDF had been operating largely in the periphery of Gaza. With every violation of agreed-upon cease-fire, journalists and retired generals have been urging action against the heart of Hamas'' military and political leadership, and the center of their support in Gaza City. If government and military decision-makers move in that direction, observers should prepare themselves for a spread of what looks like Berlin in 1944 and more pictures of dead and suffering civilians.

Then the happiest will be Muslim extremists, Presbyterian activists, like thinking Christians and their Jewish comrades who are fond of justifying their blame of Israel.

Saudi and Egyptian officials will accuse Israel of brutality, but continue condemning terrorists (i.e., Hamas) who give Islam a bad name.

Israelis will not be quiet. When the dust settles and the unity preserved (more or less) during the fighting subsides, several of the episodes that have gotten brief headlines will reach the level of scandals.

Among those is the implementation of the Hannibal tactic, which Israeli military and civilian personnel have debated since the 1980s.

Officially, in the event of a suspected abduction of an Israeli soldier, commanders may take whatever action is necessary, even at the risk of endangering the life of the Israeli, to foil the abduction. The official directive does not allow the targeting of the Israeli. Unofficially, however, there are those inside IDF who go beyond the official order, and direct fire from tanks, artillery and aircraft toward the group thought to be holding the soldier, and along the routes likely to be taken by them.

Friday morning we heard that 2nd Lieutenant Hadar Goldin had been captured in the southern area of Gaza. By Saturday morning, the news from Hamas sources was that all contact with the group involved in his capture had been lost, and that it--along with Goldin--were probably killed in the barrage of air strikes and artillery that came after the capture. 

Among the arguments on the various sides of this issue is the still-smoldering controversy about Gilad Shalit, the five-year campaign that roiled Israeli politics about the price to be paid for his return, and the eventual release of more than a thousand prisoners including numerous murderers, some of whom subsequently killed Israelis.

According to a respected commentator on military affairs

"IDF and Shin Bet will do their best to (ascertain that) . . .  Israel doesn''t have another Gilad Shalit on its hands, or to verify that the suspected kidnap victim is no longer alive - which makes it easier, no matter how painful that might be."

The family of  Lieutenant Goldin held a press conference after the end of Sabbath in which they asserted that their soldier was alive, and insisted that the IDF remain in Gaza until he returned home. 

A few hours later, the Minister of Defense (a family relative), the general at the head of IDF''s personnel department, and the IDF chief rabbi visited the family with details indicating that their son was no longer alive.

The family accepted the IDF''s decision, but others continued to demand a greater commitment to assure the safety of all Israel''s soldiers.

Israel officials are refusing to participate in cease fire discussions, calling them a farce. The government and military leaders decided to withdraw a substantial number of ground forces, due to the destruction of tunnels in various areas. There are hints that additional troops will be withdrawn, and that Israel will operate unilaterally, largely from the air, against any continued Hamas threats.

Optimists are hoping for international political support against Hamas terror and barbarism, with Israel and Egypt cooperating in controlling what can enter Gaza. Aspirations are that reconstruction will be allowed only in exchange for de-militarization. 

Skeptics doubt if Israel can stand against pressure for relief of civilian suffering. They see another round of fighting more likely than de-militarization.

Political leaders in the area near Gaza are not happy, and speak of being abandoned to continued threats from Hamas.

Already begun is an emotional and political onslaught from NGOs, activists, and some governments against what the IDF did to Gaza. Numbers are approaching 2,000 killed and 10,000 injured. Thousands of civilians are suffering from a lack of homes, electricity, clean water, sufficient food or medical supplies. 

Spokesmen for Hamas are claiming victory. They defeated what Israel was able to direct against them, and see Israeli soldiers going home.

The White House will craft some words bothersome to all sides.

The only thing Israel can count on is its capacity to create massive damage and casualties.

That''s what it has done. It is likely have an effect, sooner or later. Most likely Israel will have to do it again. Who knows when?

Iraqis and their friends may not have the will or the capacity to defeat ISIS.

Hamas'' exploitation of its children, its cynical use of schools, mosques, and hospitals for its military purposes, and its violation of cease fire puts it in the league of the ISIS barbarians.

Israel has the capacity to deal with the evil of Islamic terror, at least in this small part of the Middle East.

We''ll see who in the governments and populations of western governments accept Israel as a worthy guardian of their civilization.

Holocaust survivors collected some 100,000 shekels to buy equipment and food for soldiers in and around Gaza. "It doesn''t matter what language they speak and what color their skin, all of them are precious and are loved." The signs being held by a trio read, "Take care of yourselves," "Valuable grandsons-- Return home safely," "Be strong."




 

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