At the time of this writing, the ceasefire with Gaza is still holding. What were Hamas leaders thinking? How did they think Israel would react if they again launched thousands of their Qassam rockets are Israeli civilians, this time not only at villages and towns along the border with Gaza but even at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They left Israel no choice but to respond by sending its aircraft to demolish the Hamas rocket launchers in and buried under buildings in Gaza. And yes, even at buildings where Hamas was operating behind the cover of foreign offices, like the famous case of the AP. But only after giving a one-hour warning to immediately evacuate the building office, although this also enabled Hamasniks to escape.
Background to Gaza conflagration …
For years now, Palestinians in Gaza have periodically escalated their almost continual rocketing of Israeli civilians across the border. This after former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the total withdrawal of IDF troops from Gaza in 2005. Since then, the Gazans have consistently bombarded Israeli civilians, and three times it became so intolerable that the IDF sent in ground troops to suppress the rocket attacks.
The previous IDF operation was in 2014, lasting 51 days and ending with 67 IDF soldiers killed.
Fast forward to the latest flare-up. This time around, the IDF conducted a new strategy based on its ingenious ‘Iron Dome’ rocket defense – a computerized system immediately identifies the launching of Hamas rockets and determines if it is on target to hit Israeli soldiers or civilians. If it is, then an Israeli rocket is launched immediately, and in over 90% of the cases, it blasts the Qassams out of the sky.
As reported previously by IsraCast, the US cooperation Raytheon has signed a deal to produce Iron Dome in the US for protecting the lives of its troops and allies worldwide. But there is no question at this time, the Hamas launching of rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was a declaration of all-out war if there ever was one. Thousands of Israeli families were forced to flee their homes along the Gaza border, despite the protective shield of Iron Dome. All in all, 12 Israelis were killed – all of them civilians.
Israel was left with no choice but to order its airforce to seek out and destroy the Hamas rocket sites and underground networks known as ‘the metro.’ This also prevented Hamas fighters from tunneling under the Gaza-Israeli border and launching surprise attacks on Israeli civilians.
Zero tolerance for renewed terrorism …
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a former IDF Chief of Staff, has come to the fore in overseeing IDF operations. Gantz has stated loud and clear that if Hamas again, as it did in the past, launches sporadic attacks across the border, the IDF will respond in force. In his words, “there will be zero tolerance” for any Hamas explosives attached to balloons or new tunnels being built under the border for launching surprise attacks on Israeli civilians. Those Israeli residents now returning to their homes have also declared that they are entitled to the same security as their fellow citizens in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Almost ‘all quiet’ on Israel’s northern front …
Now to the Lebanese border, where Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas were closely following the fireworks. It appears the Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, after recently destroying the port of Beirut by the explosion of a huge weapons depot, decided the timing was not right to join the fray. However, tension spiraled one night when the IDF spotted six rockets fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel. The air raid sirens sounded along the joint border, and the rockets fell short inside Lebanese territory. A quick IDF investigation revealed the rockets were not fired by Hezbollah but apparently by Palestinians in southern Lebanon. Israeli artillery then fired six answering shells harmlessly into empty spaces in Lebanon.
The warning was heeded, and there were no further threats from across the Lebanese border.
The sudden outbreak of violence came against the backdrop of Israel’s current government crisis without an elected cabinet in office. Bibi Netanyahu is still the caretaker Prime Minister, while Benny Gantz has distinguished himself as Defense Minister.
The new US President, Joe Biden, despite some news reports to the contrary, has stood solidly behind Israel. Biden backed Israel’s right to defend itself while calling for an early ceasefire. There have been critical voices of Israel and even anti-Israel demonstrations in New York. How to relate to Jews opposing Israel’s right to defend herself? I would rate them from ‘disgusting to … misguided.’
And this closing observation about Iran, a sponsor of Hamas: It is fair to assume the success of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense has also sent shock waves through that country that is now developing ballistic missiles, eventually with nuclear warheads, to annihilate Israel. However, if the Jewish state has perfected a world-class missile defense system against short-range rockets, it can be assumed that it has developed (or is developing) a missile system that can intercept long-range, perhaps intercontinental missiles that Iran is now trying to develop. It is no secret that for years now, Israeli experts have been working on such a project. Has the success of Iron Dome in Gaza sent a wakeup call to Tehran as well?