The Situation in Israel and What the Future Holds

We Are For Israel strongly supports the ability of the nation of Israel to defend its population and offer our prayers and blessings for the well-being of its people at this time of crisis.

As I write this, rockets are indiscriminately falling on the cities and towns in southern Israel as Hamas and Islamic Jihad attempt to terrorize and kill Israeli civilians. An increase in rocket fire over the past day is in response to a series of extremely precise strikes against targets in the Gaza strip, but over 800 rockets have fallen upon southern Israel from Gaza in the past year. In short order, Israel killed the leader of the military wing of Hamas, Ahmed Jabari, who was responsible for orchestrating numerous attacks against Israel over many years, and destroyed twenty sites at which Hamas and Islamic Jihad stored and launched their best and most dangerous weaponry, Iranian made Fajr 5 medium range missiles. As the Times of Israel reported last evening, militarily the day was a stunning success for Israel, severely harming Hamas’ capabilities.

Today, sirens were wailing in Tel Aviv and the southern portion of Israel is largely shut down as rockets rain down upon its residents.

Yesterday afternoon, I was part of a conference call for Israel bloggers and was told by the IDF spokesperson that the goals of Operation Pillar of Defense are to protect civilians from the threat of constant rocket attacks and to cripple the capabilities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror organizations. These goals are not going to be accomplished in a short lived operation.

This morning, the Times of Israel is reporting that:

Following the IDF’s announcement of a limited call-up of reservists, a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem tells Israel Radio that a far larger call-up is expected because the IDF has planned to send ground force into the Gaza Strip.

The source adds that Israel is not interested in getting dragged into a prolonged ground operation, and that Hamas’s reaction to Operation Pillar of Defense determines the future of the IDF’s operation. Pillar of Defense is not expected to end anytime soon, he says; it won’t be a matter of days, rather, a matter of weeks.

It appears to be the case that the security situation deteriorated dramatically with the capabilities of the various terror organizations increasing to the point that Israel could no longer wait to address the situation with a substantial operation. This has become clear for a number of reasons:

  • The discovery of large smuggling tunnels along the Israeli border filled with explosives,
  • Repeated attempts to capture Israeli soldiers patrolling the border,
  • The use of a rocket propelled grenade against an IDF jeep which severely injured two soldiers, costing one of them his sight,
  • The large scale attack on the Israeli border from Egypt resulting in the deaths of sixteen Egyptian soldiers and an attack last week that resulted in the deaths of three more Egyptian soldiers in El Arish,
  • The rise to power in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Hamas,
  • Deteriorating conditions in Syria with violence potentially spilling over into Israel and Lebanon,
  • Increasing relations between Hamas and Turkey which threatens to make Israeli preemptive action against Hamas more difficult,
  • Massive Weapons Smuggling by Iran from the Yarmouk Weapons Factory in Khartoum, Sudan to Hamas and Hizballah,
  • The relatively constant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and
  • The increasing fears about potential military conflict with Iran.

While Israel publicly states that the airstrike against Ahmed Jabari was phase 1 of Operation Pillar of Defense and that phase 2 included sorties aimed at crippling Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s ability to launch longer range missiles, the first phase of this operation may well have occurred on October 24, three weeks ago, when an Israeli airstrike appears to have occurred against the Yarmouk Weapons Factory operated by Iran in Khartoum, Sudan, destroying over forty shipping containers filled with weaponry, most likely longer range rockets. An Iranian freighter and destroyer appear to have been on their way to Sudan to pick up and transport the containers when Israel destroyed them.

It is certainly possible that Israel’s goals are limited to Gaza, but one must envision broader possibilities of which two readily present themselves.

First, there is the possibility of deterioration in Syria and potentially Lebanon that could result in massive scale rocket fire falling in the north. The possibility of that happening coupled with Hamas and Islamic Jihad raining rockets down upon the south and potentially striking large population centers with Iranian Fajr 5 rockets made action to address their capabilities in Gaza a near necessity.

Second, there is a possibility of Israeli or US military action against Iranian nuclear sites at some point in the Spring or Summer of 2013 if the situation deteriorates further and Iran nears nuclear weapons capability. In the event of a strike against Iran by either nation, the belief is that rockets would come from both Gaza and southern Lebanon into Israel. Limiting the capabilities of those in Gaza and southern Lebanon to do harm would then become an imperative and require action in the months ahead not merely in Gaza, but in Lebanon as well.  In this case, we may see operations taking place against targets in southern Lebanon in the spring of 2013 aimed at reducing Hizballah’s capabilities just as Operation Pillar of Defense seeks to do in regard to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

In any event, it appears that we are in for not days of an ongoing conflict but weeks or months.

Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yaaseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru Amein.

May the one who makes peace on high, make peace descend upon us and all the people of Israel. Let us all say, “Amen.”

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