More of the same? Or some kind of cease fire that holds?
We may be winding down. Hamas and its allies are firing fewer missiles. They may be pacing themselves toward the end of their supply. While there have been a few suicide bombers directed against Israeli soldiers, there are also Increasing numbers of Hamas fighters surrendering. This picture suggests that not all of Gaza''s young men aspire to be martyrs.
The weekend routines included the banning of young men (under 50) from the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa. The last Friday of Ramadan has special religious significance, and security personnel were on alert. There were violent demonstrations in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, and the IDF responded. In recent days, 9 Palestinians have died and many more injured.
The IDF Homefront Command reminded us of its radio stations for the Sabbath of religious Jews. They broadcast quiet except for missile warnings.
Most international airlines have renewed their flights. By one report, the cancellation of the FAA action against flights to Israel, and the copycat action of Europeans came in response to an Israeli threat to increase greatly the bombing of the neighborhoods used to shield the firing of missiles. Palestinian deaths now close to 900 with some 6,000 wounded. It would not look good if those numbers began to multiply, with Israel''s explanations focused on the need to end Palestinian and American threats against its international airport.
There is no surprise about the decision of the UN Human Rights Council to begin an inquiry into Israel''s violation of international law, or that the same organization sees no reason to investigate Hamas'' violations, the action of the newly created Islamic State that all women and girls within their regime must wear the vale and undergo female circumcision, or the carnage in Syria that in recent weeks has caused more than three times the deaths of those in Gaza..
The deaths of 15 and the wounding of many more at a UNRWA school is the latest abomination featured in the international media. Initially it was blamed on Israeli shelling. More recently reports have admitted that it might have resulted from one of the many Palestinian missiles that fail to make it out of Gaza. One can also speculate that Hamas may have done it on purpose to provide more fodder for its media campaign. The IDF concedes that one of its shells may have fallen on the facility, but has said that Hamas was using the facility, or the area close to it, to fire on Israeli forces. There is dispute between UNRWA and the IDF as to whether the facility was warned about an impending IDF attack.
Israeli journalists have increased their criticism of colleagues working in Gaza for international media. Virtually all of their stories are about civilian casualties, with the emphasis on children. Where are the reports about the fighting in Gaza, or the actions of Hamas--both against Israel and pressing civilians toremain near their munitions and firing positions? It is easy to conclude that the journalists are doing what Hamas is demanding. If they want to work in Gaza, they must join Hamas'' campaign.
Hamas has called on the Palestinians of the West Bank to begin a third intifada. There has been an increase in violent demonstrations, and in the severity of Israeli responses.
Israelis are threatening IDF logistics with thousands of packages containing food and clothing assembled by community centers and private individuals for the soldiers. The army has closed roads to civilian traffic and warned civilians to stay away from the area around Gaza. Families and the curious want to visit the soldiers either pulled out of Gaza for rest, or waiting to enter. The area is dangerous. The army does not want to worry about protecting hordes of visiting civilians, or keeping their cars away from its heavy trucks, tanks, and other military vehicles.
Here''s one indication of popular support. "IDF: We love you" on a home for seniors in our neighborhood.
We''re in a muddle involved with various cease fire proposals, and conditions attached by Israel and Hamas. John Kerry may be learning more about international relations following the unanimous rejection by the Israel cabinet of something he thought was a great idea.
Hamas demands are
- Open borders
- Air and sea ports
- Withdrawal of IDF from Gaza
- Freeze of Israeli settlements in West Bank, and an end to the "occupation" of the West Bank
Israel''s demands are
- Destruction of all tunnels
- De-militarization of Gaza
- Border controls by reliable forces to assure that there would be no import of munitions
- Assurance that the import of construction materials will be used for civilian reconstruction and not the construction of tunnels and other fortifications.
The key questions are
- Will the two sides agree to a cease fire and the start of negotiations? and
- Will a cease fire survive the failure of one or another side to achieve its aims?
Whenever the active fighting and bombing comes to an end, policymakers and commentators will focus on the implications of the carnage and destruction for the support of Hamas in Gaza, the support of Fatah''s leadership there and in the West Bank, and the postures toward Israel of its Arab citizens and the Arab residents of Jerusalem.
It is hard to imagine that Israeli officials or population will be inclined to any early re-opening of a peace process, given the costs in lives lost and disrupted by this operation, and the increase in ugliness shown by Palestinians of the West Bank and Israeli Arabs.
Not all is dismal.
The success of Iron Dome is another accomplishment of Israeli technology likely to be a factor in its international commerce. The armed services of other countries concerned about the protection of troops based in hostile areas, or other vulnerable facilities are being targeted by a sales video produced by Israel''s Rafael Industries. It should also appeal to Israelis and their overseas friends. Those inclined can click here to polish their pride