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Potential for war in Israel

The escalating rocket attacks from the Gaza has put both Hamas and Israel into a difficult position. Neither is looking for a full-blown war; but both are having their arms twisted.

by Stratfor
Hamas rocketsIsrael on Wednesday launched the biggest military operation in the Gaza Strip since Operation Cast Lead in late 2008. Israeli airstrikes killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the chief of the Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian territory. Israeli warplanes also struck other Hamas military leaders and attacked facilities that housed the group's arsenal of longer-range rockets and missiles.

Israel Defense Forces are also preparing for a potential ground offensive, but the country's political leaders say that such a move will depend on Hamas' intentions. Even as it escalates its military actions, Israel is clearly trying to avoid a repeat of Operation Cast Lead. That operation took place before widespread regional unrest unseated a number of Arab rulers who were in a position to subdue their countries' citizens.

Egypt, the region's most critical state as concerns Israel's security, best illustrates the changed political landscape around Israel. President Mohammed Morsi is a senior member of the world's oldest and largest Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood; Hamas is the successor to the Brotherhood's Palestinian branch. Israel is already struggling to manage the rise of Islamists in the wake of the demise of secular Arab autocrats. It certainly doesn't want to exacerbate its difficulties with an offensive in Gaza.

That said, Israel won't tolerate rocket fire from Gaza -- especially expanded rocket capability in the form of the Fajr 5, a new long-range missile that the Israelis claim to have targeted in their airstrikes. Israel has to take action to protect its citizenry. It needs to make sure that the Arab Spring allows neither Hamas nor other, more radical factions in Gaza connected to al Qaeda or Iran to become capable of threatening Israeli security.

Hamas also has no interest in picking a fight with Israel, especially after Cast Lead, which devastated the Palestinian territory and Hamas. On the contrary, Hamas wishes to benefit from the Arab Spring in the same way its Muslim Brotherhood comrades in Egypt have. Ultimately, Hamas wishes to be recognized internationally as a legitimate political entity ruling the Gaza strip.
Hamas would like to use the Arab Spring and the decline of its secular rival Fatah as springboards to emerge as the vanguard of Palestinian nationalism. But even as it seeks to enter the political mainstream, Hamas must contend with fundamental geopolitical realities -- including the fact that it does not have a monopoly over violence in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas' rival factions run the gamut from the pro-Iranian Palestinian Islamic Jihad to Salafist-Jihadist groups linked to an al Qaeda-inspired agenda. All these groups seek to undermine Hamas' influence. What will happen is this: Rival Palestinian factions will stage rocket attacks. This may happen with the assistance of hawkish elements of Hamas who do not agree with the leadership's agenda. This will create a dilemma for Hamas.

On the one hand, Hamas doesn't wish to engage Israel militarily. But on the other, it cannot always remain constrained in the face of Israeli countermeasures, Hamas rules Gaza but lacks the ability to control the area's different faction, which means that, like it or not, a potential war with Israel is on the horizon.

Ed footnote:
The Third Jihad is a book-title. The term captures what is happening in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the United States and more recently the uprisings of the 'Arab Spring'.
Historically there has been two major expansions of Islam. One into Western Europe (ultimately repulsed at the Battle of Tours in 731AD) and then another almost 1000 years later into Eastern Europe. The latter was ultimately defeated at the gates of Vienna in 1683. What we are seeing now is 'Islam on a roll'. We are now in a new (and final?) phase of a very old war.

The battle for Israel and Jerusalem is ultimately a spiritual one and designed to thwart God's end-time purposes. It will continue and will, in whatever precise form and timescale, continue to escalate. The Bible tells us so. If ultimately Jesus' feet will stand on the Mount of Olives we cannot expect otherwise.

 Israel in the Eternal Purposes of God 

Stratfor/Christians Together, 15/11/2012

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Editor 17/11/2012 16:28

• Rockets landed in the Eshkol area around Tel Aviv. Two rockets landed in open areas south of Jerusalem.

• 3 IDF soldiers in southern Israel were injured by a rocket fired from Gaza a short while ago.

• Israel continued targeting senior Hamas commanders, and launching sites overnight and on Friday. 16,000 IDF infantry ground troops have been called up as a precautionary measure. 75,000 reservists have been authorised for call up.

• EU Foreign Affairs High Representative, Baroness Ashton, issued this statement:

“The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks. I urge Israel to ensure that its response is proportionate.”

• Conversations have continued between the Israeli Prime Minister and President Obama, and between President Obama and Egyptian President Morsi.

• The UK Jewish community leadership expressed their solidarity with Israel in a letter to Ambassador Taub

• Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Kandil, visited Gaza. He condemned Israel’s ‘aggression’. Israel’s Prime Minister called a suspension of offensive action during his stay.

• The US Senate passed a unanimous resolution of support for Israel.

Editor 18/11/2012 15:10
UPDATE ISRAEL/GAZA SITUATION - Operation Pillar of Defence - Day 4

• IDF hit 238 targets on Friday, eliminating Hamas' early stage drone capabilities. The Palestinian death toll is reported at 40. Hamas HQ destroyed.
• IDF reported that 3 soldiers injured from rocket fire in the southern region of Israel earlier today. 4 rockets hit Ashdod - no reported injuries. Damage to a house and a car. One landed near a kindergarten.
• IDF issued figures from last 3 days: 492 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel with 245 Iron Dome interceptions = 737 rockets fired at Israel (as of 5pm UK Time).
• An Iron Dome battery has been deployed to defend the Tel Aviv area after 4 rockets were fired at the city - it intercepted a rocket over the city this afternoon. A 5th battery was deployed in the South.
• 75,000 IDF troops authorised for call up in advance of a possible ground assault into Gaza.
• At least 60 rockets fired from Gaza this year have landed inside Gaza, according to the Prime Minister's office.
• IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz instructed the military on Saturday afternoon to increase the rate of strikes on terrorist cells, among them rocket launching squads.
• Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu talks to Obama about options to de-escalate.
• Shelley Yachimovich, Leader of the Labour Party, commented that Israel should continue their attacks until rocket threats removed and deterrence restored.
• British Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP, called on UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to intervene to prevent the crisis becoming a full scale conflict.
• Tunisian Foreign Minister, Rafik Abdessalem, visited Gaza and said, “that which Israel was able to do previously it is no longer allowed today” but also stated that “we will work with the Arab League and UN to stop aggression”.
• Egyptian President Morsi to hold talks with Turkish PM, Emir of Qatar, Hamas Leader Mashaal in Cairo on Saturday.
• Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Minority Leader in the US House of Representatives - 'Israel has every right to defend herself – Hamas attacks against Israel must stop immediately. We mourn loss of innocent lives.'

Editor 18/11/2012 23:57
UPDATE ISRAEL/GAZA SITUATION Day 5 Sunday - Operation Pillar of Defence

• Rockets continued to fall in southern Israeli cities throughout Sunday, including a 15 rocket barrage fired at Ashdod and more at Ashkelon, Beerheva, Sderot and elsewhere. There were direct hits on houses in Beersheva and Ashkelon. An Israeli man was seriously wounded in Sha'ar Hanegev, and a couple and baby were among five wounded in a strike on Ofakim.
• Another rocket was intercepted over the Tel Aviv area on Sunday morning.
• As of Sunday afternoon, since Operation Pillar of Defence began on Wednesday (November 14), more than 900 rockets had been fired from Gaza, with more than 300 intercepted by the Iron Dome Defence System.
• Israel continued to hit targets in the Gaza Strip. On Sunday afternoon the IDF killed the head of Hamas's rocket-launching unit Yehiya Bia. Overnight it hit two sites related to Hamas communications, as well as smuggling tunnels and rocket firing crews. The death toll on the Palestinian side has increased to 65, and women and children are reported to be among today's Palestinian fatalities.
• The Kerem Shalom crossing reopened to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza. 124 trucks of goods entered the Gaza Strip carrying medical supplies, food, milk, and gas.
• Talks took place this morning in Cairo including leaders from Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders reportedly met with Egyptian intelligence, which is in turn believed to be in touch with Israel, to discuss the terms for a potential ceasefire.
• French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived in Israel today. Prime Minister Netanyahu has reportedly been telling international leaders that if Hamas agrees to stop firing rockets, Israel's operation will stop.
• At the same time Israel is keen to send a clear message to Hamas that they are going to come under increasing pressure the longer this goes on. Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet he is 'prepared to expand' the operation in Gaza. Israel is approaching a key decision about whether or not to escalate to a ground operation. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz instructed the IDF on Sunday afternoon to pick up the pace of air attacks.

Editor 19/11/2012 17:21

You won’t see much in the news about this, but according to the IDF – which of course monitors all rocket launches from Gaza – about 10 percent of the rockets that Hamas shoots in the hope that they will kill and maim Israeli civilians crash back into Gaza.

Inevitably, some of these rockets will kill and maim Gazans – after all, as we hear so often, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Another well-known, though not widely reported fact is that Hamas likes to fire its rockets from residential areas.

Some journalists stationed in Gaza have posted tweets when they observed rockets being launched from populated areas or even from the vicinity of their offices or their hotels, and sometimes, it was also noted that Gazans were cheering these launches.

But by now, almost 100 Hamas rockets have crashed in Gaza. Needless to say, the damage and casualties these rockets are causing are usually blamed on Israel.
That was also the case when the body of a young boy was brought to a Gaza hospital just when Egypt’s Prime Minister was visiting there last week. The dramatic images were widely distributed by the media – but ultimately, it turned out that the dead boy whom CNN presented as “a symbol of civilian casualties” was the victim of a crashed Hamas rocket.

The blogger Elder of Ziyon was the first to point out that the available evidence in this case didn’t justify the claim that the boy had been killed by an Israeli airstrike.

In the meantime, a few media sites have corrected their related stories. However, these will probably remain exceptional cases, and most of the damage and casualties caused by crashed Hamas rockets in Gaza will likely be blamed on Israel.

Report by Jerusalem Post
Seumas, Tobermory (Guest) 19/11/2012 21:04
Interesting article in the Guardian "Comment is Free"

Editor 20/11/2012 21:12
UPDATE ISRAEL/GAZA SITUATION Day 7 Tuesday - Operation Pillar of Defence

• Media stories of a ceasefire to be declared 7pm GMT and will go into effect at 11.00pm this evening.
• A rocket launched toward Jerusalem landed in an Arab village close by. Sirens were sounded but there was no reported damage.
• 120 trucks of aid unable to enter Gaza due to Hamas firing on the border crossings.
• Hamas reported to have publicly executed 6 Palestinians accused of spying for Israel.
• Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, thanked Iran for supplying weapons to Hamas.
• Iran accused Israel of war crimes and claimed Israel is solely responsible for the violence in Gaza.
• Israeli aircraft target the HQ of the Islamic National Bank in Gaza, a vehicle established in order for Hamas to be able to bypass international sanctions.
• UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, made a statement to the House of Commons emphasising that Hamas bears ‘the principal responsibility for starting the current crisis.’ He urged Israel to ‘seek every opportunity to de-escalate their military response.’
• UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He called on both sides to halt the violence.
• A delegation of Arab Foreign Ministers travel to Gaza to show their solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.
• BBC Gaza Correspondent Jon Donnison retweeted a picture entitled ‘Pain in Gaza’, to which Donnison added ‘Heartbreaking’. Twitter quickly then proved to Donnison that this picture was in fact Syria. Twenty-four hours later Donnison then issued clarification however this has left many unsatisfied.
• Israeli Ambassador, Daniel Taub, writes ‘Halting Hamas’ in The Huffington Post.

Editor 21/11/2012 10:44

A terrorist blew up a bus on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel Aviv around noon Wednesday.

Magen David Adom said that at least 10 people were injured, three seriously.

Police confirmed that the explosion was a terrorist attack.

The wounded were being evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Read on ..,7340,L-4309791,00.html

The attack comes in the eighth day of Operation Pillar of Defense, which has seen hundreds of rockets fired into Israel, including four in the Tel Aviv area.
Editor 21/11/2012 14:52

Six men accused of being 'Israeli spies' were dragged through the streets of Gaza City and executed in front of a chanting mob today as Israel warned Palestinians to evacuate some areas of the territory in apparent preparation for a ground invasion.

Witnesses said the six were taken to an intersection in the north of the city where they were summarily shot for providing intelligence that helped Israel pinpoint key figures in Hamas and the Islamic Jihad targeted by their warplanes.

Gunmen chained the body of one of the alleged collaborators to a motorcycle and dragged it throughout the main streets of Gaza City in a warning to others who 'betrayed' Palestinians.

Read more:

Editor 21/11/2012 23:36
UPDATE ISRAEL/GAZA SITUATION Day 8 Wednesday - Operation Pillar of Defence

• US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr have held a press conference to announce an agreed ceasefire will come into effect at 7pm GMT.
• An Israeli Soldier, Cpl. Yosef Fartuk, died after a mortar attack and one civilian, Alian Salem Alanbari from Bedouin village Rejwan, was killed in a rocket attack.
• An explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv caused 24 injuries and was thought to be a terrorist attack. Hamas claimed responsibility for it. One suspect has been arrested. The action was condemned by the UN, US and Russia among others.
• Four Israelis were wounded after a mortar shell from Gaza hit the Eshkol Regional Council.
• Since the beginning of the operation, 809 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel and 389 were intercepted by Iron Dome. This is a total of 1198 rockets fired at Israel. Figures given by the IDF as of 8.00pm Tuesday.
• The IDF reported that they have hit over 1500 targets since the start of the operation.
• US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. In a press conference Clinton confirmed that US support for Israel’s security is ‘rock solid and unwavering.’
• UK Middle East Minister Alistair Burt met with Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Burt condemned the terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv today.
• US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this morning before travelling to Cairo for talks with President Morsi.
• Egypt has reportedly confiscated trucks carrying 108 warheads for Grad rockets heading for Gaza.
• UEFA has postponed Thursday’s Europa League match between Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and Athletic Bilbao as a result of today’s terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

Editor 23/11/2012 16:22

Throughout the Muslim world, there were celebrations with people singing and dancing and giving each other sweets, celebrating Hamas's victory over the Israelis.

Hamas suffered serious losses. As Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, stated at the news conference in which he announced the ceasefire, many Hamas leaders were eliminated and their military capabilities were sharply degraded.

But Hamas was not defeated. It will clearly be able to rain down rockets on the Israeli civilian population again when it chooses.

What we call terror is a legitimate tactic of Muslim warfare -- terror is how the Muslim prophet Muhammad subdued his enemies. He struck fear into their hearts, coercing them to surrender. Hamas is doing nothing more than following Muhammad's guidance.

Ironically, at the same time as Barak was proudly announcing the ceasefire -- and his colleagues Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman were chiming in -- Israeli radio could be heard interrupting their speeches with Code Red alerts to the people of the south to run to their shelters: Hamas and its cohorts had continued firing rockets at Israel.

Why did Hamas fire these rockets during the ceasefire announcement? The last day of the Israel-Hamas fight was the most violent: Hamas apparently wanted to prove it had the upper hand going towards a cease fire, and that it could impose a cease fire on Israel on Hamas's terms.

That would erase the perception that Israel was trying to create of a Hamas crawling for dear life to the finish line, saved by the bell.

To drive this point home, Hamas therefore fired rockets after the ceasefire to get the last shots, to thereby prove that Israel gave in to Hamas.

For Hamas, this was all about managing perceptions as to which side needed the ceasefire more than the other. Moreover, this does not even touch on the additional point that Hamas is making that Israel did not launch a ground offensive because it was too afraid, concerned about the cost of doing so.

Full report ..

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