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Israel's New Rules For Palestinian Rocketing From Gaza

Peshmerga soldier

Did Hamas get the message? On August 22nd, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza deliberately fired a rocket into the Israeli town of Sderot. Sirens sounded - children, women and men rushed for the nearest bomb shelter. Fortunately no one was injured, aside from the possible trauma of having a rocket explode nearby in your home-town. But it could have killed and wounded many people if it had hit a crowded shopping area or summer camp for children.

As usual, the Hamas government in Gaza was quick to deny any responsibility for the attack-

       'It was probably a rogue band, not us!

The very same night, Israel jets bombed carefully selected Hamas targets, all unmanned in Gaza. Two Palestinians were slightly injured. The Palestinians knew Israel would retaliate, it always does but they did not expect the raid would last for several hours. The intensity even shocked Sderot residents who had gathered in the evening for an outdoor celebration - but most were pleased the Palestinians were getting some of their own medicine. It was the most intense Israeli response since the Palestinians triggered the summer war two years ago by rocketing Israel.

This year, fourteen Palestinians rockets have been launched into Israel. Any one of them could have caused severe Israeli casualties. Nonetheless Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukri declared with a straight face:

      'We hold Israel responsible for the escalation!'

There could be no mistaking the intensity of the Israeli response. Until now, Israel has sufficed, by responding to every Palestinian rocket with a low key response. In fact, Israel usually just going through the motions with a solitary air strike on a Hamas position, after allowing Hamas members to flee ahead of time. But Israel has served notice, probably on the order of new Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that there are new rules. No longer will Israel acquiesce in Hamas or other terror groups launching a rocket into Israel whenever they get the urge - no longer a game of tit-for-tat'. This time the IDF again took care not to wound Palestinians. But if Israeli policy is now to make the Palestinians pay severely for terrorizing Israeli civilians then Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, will have to take it into account by cracking down on the 'rogues'. But how long can the terrorists curb their addiction, until they again start firing more rockets at Israeli civilians?

Portrait of a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter holding his daughter in their village outside of Dohuk, Iraq

 Egypt - 'Israel is not a terrorist state!'

 Faced with a mutual threat from a nuclear Iran and Da'esh terrorists in Sinai, Egypt has been warming up the cold peace with Israel. According to foreign reports, Cairo and Jerusalem have been cooperating militarily in fighting a Daesh offensive in Sinai. For the first time in years, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Shoukry returned to Cairo and met a group of Egyptian high school students. One asked him if the US and Israel were behaving as terror states in the Middle East. When it came to Israel, the Egyptian Foreign Minister replied:

      'There is no conclusive proof leading to that conclusion... Certainly Israel is, in keeping with its own history, a society in which the security element is very strong. From 1948, that society has faced many challenges that have instilled in it the need of its national security doctrine, its control of land and border crossings... there is no evidence showing a link between Israel and armed terror groups'.

Then there's Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although Erdogan has reached a rapprochement with Netanyahu, apparently old habits die hard. After the IDF's recent calibrated response in Gaza, Ankara issued a formal statement charging that it was not 'proportional' to the Palestinian provocation. Bear in mind that Turkey has been bombing the hell out of the Kurds for years and has just mounted its own invasion into neighboring Syria! Israel's Foreign Ministry issued a sharp reply:

      'Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others...Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory in accordance with international law and our conscience'.

Meanwhile the Turkish parliament has approved the new agreement with Israel, and ambassadors are expected to be exchanged soon. Despite the former rupture in relations, bilateral trade continued to flourish and a Turkish commercial delegation arrived in Israel this week trying to drum up new deals.

Iraqi Kurdish smugglers near the border of Iraq

 Syria showdown between Turks and Kurds...

A strong Turkish force spearheaded by tanks backed by an umbrella of US jets has invaded Syria ostensibly to take on Daesh. However Erdogan's main objective is to prevent a linkup between Kurdish forces in the region. One outcome of the five year war in Syria has been the emergence of a Kurdistan in the making.

The background: The Kurds are an ethnic people, mostly Sunni Muslims who number an estimated 28 million spread mainly over Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Despite their huge number the Kurds were ignored by the Great Powers when they carved up Turkey's Ottoman Empire after the First World War. They were not granted a state of their own but the region known unofficially as Kurdistan was included inside the borders of its neighbors. Since then, Kurdish resistance has been smoldering, breaking out in a wave of terrorism in Turkey during the 1980s. The PKK, Kurdish Workers Party, was outlawed and a bloody conflict has ensued since then. Successive Turkish governments have vowed to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdistan that would include a hefty chunk of its territory. On this score, there is no one more vehement than Turkey's current President Erdogan.

In Iraq, the Kurds have already achieved a local autonomy under the KRG - Kurdish Regional Government with a capital in Erbil. While the Syrian cauldron boils and bubbles, the Kurds have exploited the chaos to make territorial gains. The fact their tough Pershmerga fighters are taking on Daesh earned them military support from the US. Moreover the Syrian branch known as YPG has founded its own capital Rojava in northern Syria. Their brave stand defending the town of Kobane from a massive Daesh offensive was memorable. However, the Kurdish forces in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq now threaten to link up and this has alarmed Erdogan. Already under pressure from Turkey to deport Turkish dissident Muhammed Gulen, Washington sent Vice President Joe Biden to tell Erdogan that America does not support the current Kurdish drive for unification and the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. Biden warned the Kurdish forces to withdraw - Secretary of State John Kerry has announced the Kurds are pulling back to the east bank of the Euphrates River. The State Department has also warned the Kurds to back off in their infighting with the Turks and focus on the common enemy Daesh.

The next episode to be continued...

Some other intriguing facts about the Kurds...

Saladin, one of the greatest heroes in the Arab world was actually a Kurd. Among his other exploits, Saladin drove the Crusaders out of Jerusalem in 1187 AD.

Kurdish women soldiers have earned a reputation for being daring combat soldiers - in fact, Daesh fighters are said to fear them because they believe that if they are killed by a woman, they will not be shaheed martyrs, who go straight to paradise and the seventy-two virgins, but will be punished by being banished to the other place.



David Essing

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