My neighbour, Arlene Kushner, sends out an update on events almost daily. She is quite good. Here’s the lastest.
It’s been fairly quiet on our border with Gaza, until the last couple of days. It was, of course, only a matter of time.
It began on Friday morning when a Grad Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza hit central Ashkelon; thankfully there were no injuries but there was property damage and a number of people were treated for shock (which should not be minimized).
We responded with an aerial attack on three different Hamas-connected sites in Gaza: a site where Hamas commandos were trained, a weapons manufacturing warehouse, and rocket-smuggling tunnel. Issa al-Batran, a commander in Hamas’s Al-Kassam Brigades, was killed in one of the strikes and eight others were wounded.
Hours after the Grad was launched, two mortars landed in the Eshkol Regional Council (which lies roughly south of Ashkelon).
Then tonight, a Kassam hit an educational institution, outside of Sderot, in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council.
Whether this is the beginning of a sustained series of attacks, or will abate, it is too soon to say. Some analysts are connecting this to the prospect of direct talks between Israel and the PA — that is, an attempt to derail this by stirring up matters.
Speaking of those direct talks, news has just broken of a letter that was sent to Abbas by Obama two weeks ago, in which he said, “it is high time to resume direct negotiations with Israel” as Netanyahu “is ready to resume direct negotiations.”
According to a PA official, the letter said that, “Obama will absolutely not accept the rejection of his recommendation to move to direct negotiations and that there will be consequences for such a rejection in the form of a lack of trust in President Abbas and the Palestinian side.” Obama promised that he would work to extend an Israeli freeze on building in Jewish settlements due to expire in September if Abbas resumed direct negotiations. “But in case of a refusal its assistance on that issue will be very limited.”
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed the existence of this letter to AFP (Agence France Presse).
There are several points of interest with regard to this letter. It was, you will note, sent before the Arab League meeting this past week, and may have had something to do with the response of the foreign ministers at that meeting with regard to (ambiguously) signing on for direct talks.
But what has not happened is that Abbas himself was so intimidated by Obama’s threats that he jumped to come to the table. There are other things that are frightening him a good deal more, I would say.
What is more, if this report is accurate, it does indicate that Netanyahu has not caved with regard to extending the freeze. Although it tells us (as we have already guessed) that there will be huge pressure on him to do so, should Abbas cave in the end and come to the table.
Of course (and also no surprise whatsoever), UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is pumping for a freeze extension. The subject came up when Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with him on Friday.
Said Barak to Ban:
“We are hoping to start direct negotiations with the Palestinians soon, in order to move forward with an agreement which will be based on two nations for two peoples. The negotiations will not be simple, and courageous decisions will be required on our part and the Palestinians…We will need the help of the UN to go forward with the negotiations.”
This man needs to be muzzled! Bad enough to speak about the “courageous decisions” we have to make (= going back to the ’67 lines), but for him to seek UN “help,” with the UN’s anti-Israel reputation? We are our own worst enemies. Barak should hang his head in shame. But then, the evidence of the past is that he’s shameless.
Barak then went into what might be seen as a comedy routine, if it were not so serious. He told Ban that the UN must act to prevent weapons smuggling by Hezbollah and to implement Resolution 1701. Come on! There will be no implementation of that resolution, and it’s rather after the fact anyway. Under the nose of UN troops Hezbollah has already re-armed to a strength greater than it had before the Second Lebanon war.
Meanwhile, that fine upstanding UN Human Rights Council — which devotes more time and energy to investigating Israeli human rights “violations” than all of the other human rights violations in the world — is going to investigate the flotilla incident. Word from our prime minister’s office is that we are not likely to cooperate. I would hope not. Not only is the mandate stacked against us, but UN war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, who has been chosen to head the panel, spoke against our actions before his appointment.
At the same time, Ban is pumping for yet another UN investigation.
Please see and broadly share “Hypocrisy’s finest hour,” by Shaul Rosenfeld.
Rosenfeld exposes the world’s hypocrisy when it comes to criticism of Israel:
“…during Operation Just Cause in December 1989, US troops in Panama killed 300 to 1,000 civilians…in October 1993, a UN force (mostly comprising US units) killed more than 500 Somali civilians, while ‘carrying out an operation,’ of course.
“Elsewhere, 460 to 2,000 civilians were killed during NATO bombings in Kosovo in 1999; in December 2004, in a campaign against Islamist forces in Iraq’s Fallujah, the Americans killed more than 6,000 civilians and obliterated about 10,000 civilian homes. Yet those who determine Israel’s guilt in advance have no use for such humdrum information.”