We''ve been here countless times, and the general picture is all too familiar.
Our Jerusalem residence close to Arab villages is an element of safety. We''re pretty near the limit of what the Gazans can shoot, and they are most likely aiming for areas more certainly Jewish. However, their aim is far from exact, as noted by an Arab friend when I said that the location of his family was the best the defense of my family. He recalled missiles from Lebanon falling on Arab villages,
There is nothing else on the news, except for an occasional mention of the latest victory in the World Cup. Media outlets have added to their news reports, with the details and commentary doing more to stimulate nerves than provide useful information.
Among the items is an increase in emotional counselling provided by the health and welfare agencies, as well as volunteers, due to children and adults bothered by all the reports of missiles falling, missiles being intercepted, Gazans killed and injured, and the frenzied actions on both sides.
Some of the noise recalls hourly reports about body counts during Vietnam (later revealed as inflated). Israeli reporters do not glory in the counts of enemy killed as did Americans 45 years ago. Here are reports about the number of targets attacked by the air force, the number of reservists drafted, the number of missiles directed at Israel, and the number intercepted by anti-missile missiles.
For the first couple of days, the air force has targeted the homes of the Gazans'' military commanders. The commanders themselves are most likely elsewhere, but a pile of rubble and some missing family members may drive home the cost of what they are doing.
The IDF has sought to minimize the carnage. It calls or texts ahead to warn civilians to distant themselves from targets, and has fired non-destructive warning missiles.when finding that the neighbors, including women and children, have been assembled on the roof to provide human protection for a building. In at least one case, Israeli commanders figured that two warning missiles were enough, and then destroyed the target.
Mahmoud Abbas calls this genocide, despite Palestinian reports that 70 of their people--including fighters--have died. He made be applauding quietly, however, insofar as the IDF is targeting has political rivals.
Egyptian authorities are talking about pressing both sides to stop the violence. Given the animosity between the current Egyptian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood/ Hamas, Cairo''s pressure may be modest.
Jordanian security personnel have mobilized to protect the Israeli Embassy from restive crowds.
Gazan media are now claiming that the IDF is striking buildings without providing prior warnings, but the IDF denies that report..
We hear that Gazan security personnel are preventing civilians from leaving targeted buildings in response to Israeli warnings.
Israeli reporters are counting up the collateral damage of the young, the old, and the female, but so far there is little domestic opposition to the operation.
The current resident of the White House and his Secretary of State are impressed by reports of civilian casualties. UN worthies are worrying about civilians on both sides.
There is considerable imbalance in foul intentions with respect to civilian casualties between the Palestinians and Israelis, and the imbalance in their destructive capacity. The missiles coming our way are directed at civilians, but most land on nothing or get shot down by defensive missiles if radar and computers indicate they are heading toward populated areas. Some of them fizzle before getting out of Gaza. Over the years they have killed more Palestinians than Israelis.
There has been some property damage, and Israelis treated for distress. It''s the Palestinians who are being killed and injured. The physical destruction is considerable. Israeli munitions turn concrete buildings into piles of rubble alongside sizable craters.
Several times each day civil defense officers tell us how to protect ourselves, while the Gazans have no shelters and are called to defend with their bodies buildings being targeted, with an eye to the carnage that will sell on international television.
As any war, there is a lot that we do not hear, and much that we question. While in earlier episodes we had to rely on word of mouth or land line telephone calls said to originate with someone who knows, now it comes from the universality of smartphones and bloggers, some of them with no limit to their imagination or vocabulary.
There are reports about the pressure building on Hamas. Two efforts to send heroic bands of killers or kidnappers into Israel ended quickly and badly for them. Hyperbolic boasts and threats in Palestinian media cannot sound all that convincing to a population living alongside the sound, smoke, dust and rubble of several hundred air strikes per day. Even before this started, Hamas had run out of money to pay its workers and fighters, so it cannot be a festive Ramadan.
Sooner or later the Gazan missile firers or those intent on martyrdom by infiltrating Israel are bound to get lucky, and we''ll hear about destroyed apartments and Israeli casualties.
Meanwhile the news is of tanks, artillery pieces, thousands of soldiers assembling near Gaza, and the likelihood of a ground operation.
The West Bank and Arab areas of Israel have quieted, except for some demonstrations in behalf of their brothers in Gaza. Either the previous wave ran out of steam, or activists are concerned about a toughening Israeli response.
Palestinians are worrying about the lack of support from Arab media and governments. Bloodier conflicts among the Muslims outweigh this little corner of the Middle East. We''ve heard in the past that other Muslims are tired of the Palestinians.
One cartoon in the Arab press shows people more excited by telecasts of the World Cup than Gaza.
The drumbeat of western worriers will increase, and there is no let up in sight from radio and television.
If it lasts a week, it will be a long operation.
No one with any authority or sense imagines that this will be the last of its kind. Optimists are hoping for enough damage to keep Hamas and its friends quiet for 18 months. Only the most wild are hoping for three years of peace.
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