Sunday, August 21, 2011

Arlene Kushner On The Terrorist Attacks And UN Refusal To Condemn

August 20, 2011
Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

"Rocket Barrage Continues"

Early today the Hamas military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, announced that the "lull" -- the informal period of quiet -- with Israel had ended. 

Hamas’ military wing talks tough Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

It has not been quiet for some time now -- with intermittent rocket attacks for which various "resistance" groups, but not Hamas itself, have claimed  responsibility.  Now a Brigades spokesman declared that any quiet is past, because of the "massacre" Israel is committing against the Palestinian people -- a reference to the retaliation by Israel following the terror attack near the border with the Sinai on Thursday.
In the last 2-1/2 days, some 80 rockets and mortars have been launched from Gaza into Israel, according to the IDF spokesman.


Four rockets were launched on Beersheva this evening, with one man killed and four wounded, one gravely.  One man had his leg almost severed from his body.

In Ofakim, a four-month-old baby and an eight-year-old girl were hurt.

Earlier today, 11 people were wounded as the result of rocket fire aimed at Beersheva and neighboring areas. There have been hits on houses, and in one case on a car. Kassam rockets, Grads, and mortars have been launched.  At least one Grad, out of some five launched, was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  (It seems to me that this is sorely inadequate.)

In the hours following this, who knows what will follow with regard to additional casualties. Soroka Hospital in Beersheva is on high alert, with all staff present.


As I write, the Inner Cabinet of eight is meeting along with IDF brass, to discuss how to respond to what is happening. There are reports that there will be discussion of ways to avoid a full Gaza operation.  But right wing MKs are saying it's time to hit Hamas hard -- aiming for Hamas political leadership.  Minister of Security Affairs Moshe Ya'alon has made a statement indicating that we must be prepared for the worst.  Certainly to date Prime Minister Netanyahu has been talking from a position of strength with regard to hitting those who presume to take aim at Israelis.

The Hamas political leadership, meanwhile, is not issuing the same belligerent message as the military wing of Hamas.  My understanding is that they, recognizing the repercussions to be faced if they don't, hope to cool matters.  And so my guess is that what transpires next depends in some good part on who prevails.
I would say that this is incredible, but in fact today nothing is:

According to an Arutz Sheva report, the UN Security Council will not be condemning the attacks on Thursday by terrorists coming out of the Sinai as "terrorism":

"Lebanon's representative to the U.N. Security Council said it would endorse a condemnation of the attacks only if the council were to condemn Israel as well, for killing the terrorists who planned the massacre.

"Lebanon refused to call the attacks 'terrorism,' arguing that the attacks were not legally terrorism because one of the buses the attackers fired on had been carrying soldiers. The attackers also fired on several civilian vehicles, and made sure to shoot innocent victims at close range to ensure they died.

"Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, expressed outrage. 'It is outrageous that the Security Council did not clearly condemn the deliberate and appalling murder of many innocent Israeli civilians, which occurred yesterday in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks,' he said.

"'The U.N. Secretary General condemned it, the Americans condemned it, the European Union condemned it, yet the bottom line is that the Security Council again failed as a body,' Prosor accused. 'Every time an issue pertains to Israel, we see deafening silence. They become blind and deaf.

"'It is no coincidence that Lebanon – the only member of the Council that obstructed this statement – is itself dominated by a terrorist organization.'"


Backtracking for a brief moment: After I wrote yesterday, I had contact with someone who has direct knowledge of the Counter-Terrorism YAMAM operations.  It is not routine, he said, for them to be deployed in anticipation of an attack, as was the case on Thursday.  This was an indication of the great seriousness with which the impending attack was handled.  He confirmed what I had read -- that they were operating on intelligence that what was planned was a kidnapping. 

It is still believed that an abduction was intended, but was thwarted -- with courage and determination.


I wrote yesterday about the YAMAM commander, Paskal Avrahami, who had been hit late in the day, after I reported on the terrorist attack.  The attack had been thought over -- some terrorists had been shot and others had escaped back over the border into the Sinai.  Military leadership was in consultation on this situation, when shots came from across the border, killing him.

A gun fight across the border then ensued, in which Egyptian security officers were either wounded or killed (I have now seen conflicting reports).  A full IDF investigation of the matter is now under way, and I believe there has been an apology offered by Defense Minister Barak.  The terrorists, it seems, wore Egyptian uniforms and deliberately operated near an Egyptian security base.  Even so, it is felt that Egyptian officers were not shot at directly by the IDF.  Either they got caught in the line of fire during the exchange, or the terrorists shot at them.


A reader of mine (who will recognize herself) asked what I saw as a very good question on Friday: Why were civilians allowed on the road to Eilat if there was warning of an impending attack?  I ultimately answered her that I believe it was because an abduction of soldiers was anticipated, and not what transpired.

Now I read that the IDF today admitted that the decision not to close the road was a mistake. That decision, made by Southern Command Chief Major-General Tal Russo, had taken into consideration a number of factors and was not made lightly.  However...


Additionally postings will follow on Sunday as there is news -- and as I am able to write, with three little boys, ages 4-8, visiting with Savta.


© Arlene KushnerThis material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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