The year 2012 was full of unexpected twists and turns in Israel. IDF Operation Pillar of Defense began on November 14, with the assassination of the Hamas armed wing commander Ahmed Jabari. During the operation, the Iron Dome missile defense system shielded hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza, and the IDF successfully hit hundreds of terrorists targets. The eight-day operation affected all Israelis - even those in the bubble of Tel Aviv, when a public bus was targeted with a bomb for the first time since 2006.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert beat major charges against him this past summer, having been found guilty of breach of trust years after the supposed crimes took place. In related news, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was indicted in mid-December for fraud and breach of trust, after a decade of investigations. Soon after, he stepped down as foreign minister in order to clear his name of the brunt of the charges against him. He says that the move a strategy to enable him to continue to serve the state of Israel.
In May 2012, Likud and Kadima united to form one of the largest government coalitions in Israeli history. Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz knew that his party might soon crumble and the move was seen by some as necessary for political survival. The deal certainly gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an unbeatable edge in a decision that he said was taken in the interest of stability for Israel's future.
Riots in May in Tel Aviv crossed the line of peaceful protest into violent protest, a rarity for the seaside city. The south Tel Aviv protests rose against the recent rise in immigration, particularly of asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. Both politicians and citizens spoke out until it was not only words that were being hurled; many Israelis were arrested. The protests and their repercussions represent a larger issue at hand, one that many Western countries face today: how to handle immigration, especially from non-Western countries, in a humane way.
The Tal Law, which allowed Yeshiva students to indefinitely defer military service, expired on July 31 of this year, leaving thousands of mostly haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Israelis in a limbo of sorts. However, despite the law expiring four months ago, no serious steps have been taken to draft haredim, and rather many have been allowed to enlist in civilian service programs instead.
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