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GAZA & GOLAN - ISRAEL JOINS THE DOTS

Cargo entering Gaza at Kerem Shalom crossing (CC IDF)

All quiet on the Gaza front, for the time being. How long now depends on Hamas. If the ceasefire holds, and that includes the Palestinian firebombing of Israeli civilians, Israel will again permit 1,000 trucks a day to deliver good and produce to poverty-stricken Gaza. If not, the latest Israeli blitz of Gaza was a taste of what will come next.

Indeed, it may be the intervention of Bulgarian diplomat Nickolay Mladenov, in his UN role, persuaded Israel and Hamas to abide by his stern demand to "step back" immediately. From Israel's perspective, both the government and public opinion were fed up after the three months of Hamas firebombing. It was only by sheer luck that Israeli civilians were not killed. In one case, a kindergarten teacher suddenly spotted a helium firebomb about to land on her children. She barely managed to rush her toddlers to safety.

A photo released on July 21, 2018, shows Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi of the Givati Brigade, who was killed by sniper fire from Gaza on July 20. (Israel Defense Forces)

What sparked the escalation that nearly spiraled into an all-out war similar to the summer of 2014? A Palestinian sniper shot dead IDF sergeant Aviv Levi. The 21-year-old Israeli was hit in the chest and critically wounded despite wearing a special ceramic vest that is meant to be bullet-proof. An IDF inquiry is examining what went wrong. Sargeant Levi was doing his compulsory service and was due to be discharged in another three months. He had specifically requested to "go to the front" at the head of his Givati Infantry Unit. At the time, his parents were on a trip to Italy and it took nearly two days to locate and inform them of the tragedy. Until then the Israeli public was not informed, although such news travels swiftly through the grapevine. There is an IDF regulation that no news of a fallen soldier is released until the family has been notified. This for two reasons - out of respect for the parents, and secondly, if news were reported that a soldier had been killed without giving the name, tens of thousands of parents with sons and daughters in combat units would be frantic wondering if it was their kin. Sargeant Levi was the first IDF soldier killed on the Gaza front since the war in the summer of 2014.

During the Hamas firebombing campaign, Israel never halted humanitarian aid such as medicine.

What happens now? If Hamas honors the ceasefire and halts the firebombing. In this case, the truck envoys will then be on the roads to Gaza. During the Hamas firebombing campaign, Israel never halted humanitarian aid such as medicine.

Some members of the Israeli cabinet have made proposals to help alleviate the poverty in Gaza. One idea proposed is that Israel promote foreign financing to build an international port to serve Gaza. Their cargos would be inspected to prevent the terrorists from smuggling in more missiles and weaponry with which to attack the Jewish state, At present, the Israeli Navi enforces a blockade of Gaza to intercept the arms smuggling. The opposition Labor Party leader Avi Gabay suggests that Israel allow some ten thousand Arab workers from Gaza to go to work in Israel after they have been vetted by Israel's Shabak security service. This would provide a big boost and family income as well as dramatically improve the low standard of living in Gaza. In effect, this is the case in the West Bank where tens of thousands of workers enter Israel daily to earn a living.

Now let's turn from the Russian to the American connection...

Haley alongside President Donald Trump and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (CC White House)

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, and three other senior American diplomats have expressed their unqualified support for Israel's military operation against Hamas. They published this opinion piece on CNN:

"Unfortunately, Hamas' malign activity is pushing Israel to engage in increasingly significant acts of self-defense.

As in the case of past conflicts, Hamas starts a clash, loses the battle, and its people suffer. This is the reality that needs to change. That foundation of reality underscores our administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital was a reflection of reality. Any realistic person knows that Jerusalem will remain a capital of Jerusalem under any peace agreement. But, as President Donald Trump said when he made that decision, he made no judgment about the final border of Jerusalem. Those questions are for the parties to decide.

The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region.

The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region. No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that's the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only be achieved if it is based on realities."

Israel extricates "White Helmets" from Syria...

Israel has helped 800 "white helmets" to escape from Asad's army that is advancing into southern Syria. The White Helmets are a volunteer force of Syrian civilians who risked their lives by entering combat zones to aid Syrian civilians who were being shelled and bombed, sometimes with chemical weapons, by Asad's forces as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guards (some 200 of them were killed and 500 wounded). Fearing Syrian Army reprisals, the White Helmets fled to the Israeli border. There, in a secret nighttime operation, the IDF spirited these brave souls out of danger by transporting them to safety in neighboring Jordan. From there the While Helmets will take off for Britain, Canada, and Germany to begin a new life.

Israel has helped 800 "white helmets" to escape from Asad's army that is advancing into southern Syria.

On the domestic scene, Bibi may have bitten off more than he can chew. A throng of tens of thousands of Israelis packed in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to protest a recent government decision against the gay community. First, the government approved a law that would legalize Israeli women to use surrogates to give birth to their children. Bibi himself later said that it was unfair that Israeli homosexuals not be granted the same right. However, Bibi's coalition partners from the ultraorthodox community were up in arms. Then, when the bill came up for passage in the Knesset, Bibi's Likud Party did a surprise "about turn" and rejected the bill on homosexuals. A political firestorm erupted with the gay community calling a general strike culminating in the huge rally at Rabin Square. The protesters, many of them not gay, accused Bibi and the government of being prejudiced against the gay community. It is also fair to say that the surprise turnout may also be an expression of Israel's secular population opposed to the growing influence of ultraorthodox Jews on daily life in Israel; this as a result of holding the balance of power in the Netanyahu's coalition government.



Political Analyst David Essing

 


David Essing

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