Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
On Memorial Day, Israel Mourns the Loss of 23,741 Soldiers; 56 Died in 2018
The Jewish state observes its national day of mourning for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
Since 1860, 23,741 fighters have perished both in battles waged to establish a state in the Jewish people’s historic homeland and in wars Israel fought against its Arab neighbors since independence was declared 71 years ago.
Following somber ceremonies on Tuesday night and the following day, the nation will switch gears on Wednesday evening to celebrate Independence Day.
A day to honor the memory of 23,741 of Israel’s fallen
Events to commemorate the memories of 23,741 fallen soldiers and civilians began in Israel on Tuesday evening as part of Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.
According to the Defense Ministry’s Families and Commemoration Department, 56 casualties were added to the count this year, including 40 disabled people who died as a result of their condition.
The Defense Ministry said it expected more than 1.5 million Israelis to visit military cemeteries across the country on Wednesday.
Memorial Day marks the memories of fallen from the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence services, the Israel Police and the Israel Prisons Service. It also honors the memories of civilians murdered in terrorist attacks.
A one-minute siren sounds at 8 p.m. on the eve of Memorial Day, and a two-minute siren sounds at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day on Wednesday. Flags on public builds are at half-mast, and ceremonies take place across the country, including in 52 military cemeteries and some 50 memorial monuments.
The Defense Ministry has sent teams to cemeteries and ceremonies around the country to hand out hundreds of thousands of water bottles, plant new plants and place more than 20,000 chairs—one at each gravesite. Tens of thousands of memorial candles and flags have also been set in place.
The Defense Ministry describes Memorial Day as arguably the most prominent day on the calendar that promotes national consensus and identification, and reduces divisions. The day is “designed for the whole of Israeli society and not exclusively for bereaved families,” it said.
In 2017, the state constructed an official Memorial Hall of Israel’s Fallen at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, officially unveiling it during Memorial Day 2017.
The Hall is where the central memorial ceremony will begin on Wednesday following the 11 a.m. siren, and where the memorial candles will be lit. The ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, the IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Col. Aviv Kochavi and the Acting Israel Police Commissioner Moti Cohen. The ceremony will also be attended by the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and the head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, as well as head of the Prisons Service Asher Vaknin.
The Defense Ministry described the Memorial Hall as a place that commemorates all of the fallen since 1860, including all of those who fell in Israel’s wars. It is a place that “allows personal and collective commemoration,” and an expression of the “moral duty to remember them all,” the Ministry stated.
The Ministry added that the central goal of its Families and Commemoration Department is to express respect and recognition held by the state for its fallen, and to provide an ongoing service to support bereaved families.
Bereaved families receive year-round support from Defense Ministry teams, including home visits and continuous communications. Care-givers tend to the needs of the elderly and provide workshops on how to manage household expenses for bereaved parents, widows and widowers.
This year, the Defense Ministry said that 40 care-giving groups were active, helping aging parents, widows, adult orphans, newly bereaved parents and bereaved Druze mothers.
The Ministry said that Memorial Day is represented by three symbols: “Lighting the candles for commemorating memories, placing flower arrangements for emotional expression and placing small national flags with black memorial ribbons tied around them on each grave, as an expression of national honor for the fallen and the participation of state in the sense of loss of bereaved families.” (JNS) Yaakov Lappin
In first, hundreds gather in Jerusalem to honor ultra-Orthodox fallen soldiers
Among countless Memorial Day events taking place around the country on Tuesday evening was a first-of-its-kind ceremony in Jerusalem dedicated to commemorating ultra-Orthodox Israel Defense Forces soldiers who died in battle and Haredi terror victims.
Some 800 members of the ultra-Orthodox community and soldiers attended the event at the Heichal Shlomo Jewish heritage center, including both chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Aryeh Stern and Shlomo Amar, bereaved families, senior IDF officials, rabbis, and members of the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion, which organized the ceremony, Channel 12 reported.
Two of the battalion’s members, Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, were killed in December 2018 in a terrorist shooting attack near the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank.
In all, 95 new names were added over the past year to the roster of 23,741 soldiers who died defending the country. They include 40 disabled veterans who passed away due to complications from injuries sustained during their service. Sixteen names were also added to the list of terror victims who perished in attacks, bringing the total to 3,150.
The ceremony represents an ongoing change in the way the ultra-Orthodox public regards Memorial Day. In the past, many in that community did not take an active role in national memorial events and individuals were often filmed refusing to stand still during the sirens that wail throughout Israel on twice during the day.
Traditionally, many ultra-Orthodox have been reluctant in the past to identify with the State of Israel due to its secular government, among other reasons. Some sects are non-Zionist or even anti-Zionist.
All major ultra-Orthodox news websites dedicated their main headlines Tuesday night to Memorial Day events and published various features on fallen troops and terror victims.
The Behadrei Haredim ultra-Orthodox website on Tuesday said that almost all Haredi politicians attended official memorial ceremonies throughout the country.
The commemoration day, established in 1951 by then-prime minister and defense minister David Ben-Gurion, was set for the 4th of Iyar on the Jewish calendar, the day before Independence Day, which begins immediately after Memorial Day. (the Times of Israel) Michael Bachner
Masa Israel’s Memorial Day Service in English for Anglos and Diaspora Jews
Jewish Agency Chair Isaac Herzog and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan join thousands of Diaspora Jews at a special event in Latrun to honor Israsel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims
Thousands of young Jews and community leaders were participating Tuesday evening in a Memorial Day event at Latrun.
The English-language ceremony was to be broadcast to thousands of Jews in communities and schools in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Uraguay, Ukraine, France, Germany, Australia, and England, as well as on Masa’s Facebook page. It will also be translated into French, Spanish, and Russian.
Those in attendance include 4,000 particiapnts of the Masa program, leaders from Diaspora Jewry, government officials, and the families of fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Former Labor Party leader and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan were also to attend.
The service was to highlight fallen soldiers and terror victims who had immigrated to Israel from other countries.
“The ceremony allows the Young Diaspora to be true partners on a day that has tremendous weight in the life of Israeli society. The ceremony has become an important way for Diaspora Jews to mourn the loss of soldiers and victims of terror alongside Israelis,” said Masa Israel Journey CEO Liran Avisar Ben Horin.
“Masa brings thousands of participants from dozens of countries all over the world to experience the Israeli reality during the impactful times of Memorial Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day,” she said. “These events continue to strengthen the connection of the Diaspora with the State of Israel.” (Ynet News) Staff
At Memorial Day event, PM Netanyahu pledges to bring missing soldiers home
Israel on Tuesday afternoon marked the start of Memorial Day for its fallen troops and terror victims with an annual remembrance service at the Yad LaBanim Memorial in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Chairvwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization Tami Shelach all participated in the ceremony.
In his speech, Netanyahu referred to the four Israelis killed during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas earlier this week: “We send our deepest condolences to their families; every victim tears at our heartstrings. Who, more than us, knows this? The pain and longing don’t go away.
“Often, upon hearing the bitter news, relatives of those killed tell me that they need to learn how to breathe again. We do not hesitate to fight, we know that readiness to fight is the guarantee of our fate… We owe our survival to those who fell in battle,” the prime minister continued.
Netanyahu completed his speech with a pledge to bring home the Israelis held captive behind enemy lines and the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas, “just as we brought Zechariah Baumel home,” he promised.
President Reuven Rivlin spoke Tuesday afternoon at the memorial ceremony for Etzel fighters who fell in the battle for the village of Malcha. Shlomo Goldhor, who fought in the battle, also spoke at the event which was attended by Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion.
At the beginning of his remarks, the president said “I remember the dear Etzel fighter who fell in the battle with sadness. I remember, I am afraid, that even after their fight to establish the state was over, the battle for memory did not end. For many years, the dead of the Etzel were not considered fallen Israeli soldiers and were not mentioned in the ‘Yizkor’ prayer. Appreciation for their immense contribution was not to be taken for granted. My dear friends, every year I come here to honor the fallen. But memorial ceremonies are not the main thing. Memory must live in our hearts and in our deeds, and in our dedication to the State and the people of Israel.”
The president addressed the pupils of the Ort Minkoff school, who take responsibility for the ceremony each year: “dear pupils of ‘Ort Minkoff’, each year you make efforts to hold this ceremony. You, the younger generation allow us to mix memory and hope. Thanks to you, we see the past through the lens of the future that you are part of. I would like to speak to you, and through you, to all our young people: we need you and your dedication, idealism and willingness to contribute. Take part. Join up. Give. Influence. Even seventeen-year-olds can change the world. May the memories of the fallen of the Etzel and the fallen of Israel be a blessing and may their legacy of victory be inscribed in our hearts forever.”
Memorial Day will begin proper at 8pm, as a one-minute air raid siren wails across the entire country. The annual remembrance day, which begins every year at sundown, sees Israelis unite in honoring the memory of its dead. The day of mourning ends the following sundown, when sadness gives way to the celebrations of Israel’s Independence Day.
As of May 2019, 23,741 Israel Defense Forces soldiers have fallen in battle and some 3,150 civilians have been killed in terror attacks. Four of those civilians were killed this week alone in the latest deadly round of Gaza cross-border fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Many Israelis mark Memorial Day by visiting the graves of their loved ones who fell in battle or at the hands of terrorists.
The siren at 8pm also marked the start of the main Memorial Day event at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, in the attendance of President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
In Tel Aviv, the annual “Songs in the Square” ceremony was to take place at the city’s main Rabin Square at 8:30pm. It was to be attended by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai as well as many Israeli singers and celebrities.
At 9:15pm, a special memorial event was set to take place in the Knesset, called “Songs in Their Memory,” attended by both Rivlin and Netanyahu.
On Wednesday, a two-minute siren will be heard across the country at 11am, followed by the main memorial service honoring the fallen IDF soldiers on Mount Herzl military cemetery in the capital. Rivlin, Netanyahu and Kochavi were all expected to attend the event.
The central memorial service for the victims of terror attacks was to be held immediately afterwards at 1pm. (Ynet News) Staff
Gaza rockets caused US$14 million in damage to buildings
Buildings in southern Israel sustained some 50 million shekels ($14 million) of damage in the escalation of the last few days, the Renovation Contractors Association says.
Chairman of the RCA Eran Siv explained Monday that buildings in the south of the country are inherently more vulnerable than buildings in central Israel.
“Most of the homes in the [southern] area have tiled roofs, so the damage in the case of a direct hit, or even a rocket falling nearby, is much bigger than to a building that has a concrete roof,” Siv told Israel Hayom.
“A tile roof doesn’t prevent or stop a rocket from entering, so the damage caused to the structure and the inside of an apartment is much greater,” he explained.
The recent round of violence saw about 35 rockets and mortars land in populated areas. In some cases, the strikes caused massive damage to the surrounding buildings.
According to Siv, renovations assessed at 43,000 shekels or less can be completed by any contractor, whereas more expensive repairs require property owners to hire a contractor registered with the Construction and Housing Ministry. In cases where a rocket strike caused a fire, the renovation is more costly.
Siv laid out the options for property owners whose assets were damaged by the violence: “The first step is for a property tax adjuster to assess the damage. Then, it is repaired. In cases of relatively minor damage, the owner can hire a contractor and then file a request for reimbursement with the property tax authorities, but for large-scale work, the construction companies do all the work without ‘civilians’ having to lay out a penny.”
Siv also argues that the government must allow any property owner whose home was damaged in the attacks to rebuild to a higher safety standard and that the government must shoulder all the costs.
“I’m calling on the prime minister and the cabinet to consider the families’ difficult situation and allow them to go back to a stronger, better-defended home and not have to make do with an approval for the minimum renovation necessary to restore the building to its former state,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, the Israel Tax Authority – whose property tax division handles requests for compensation for damage caused by war – had received 291 requests to cover the cost of repairs to buildings in southern Israel. The largest number of requests were for buildings in Ashkelon (142), followed by Ashdod (79), Sderot (24) and Kiryat Gat (20).
In addition, 137 requests were filed for compensation for damages to vehicles and seven requests were filed for compensation for damage to farm crops. The ITA approved 70% of the requests for compensation and expects the total number of requests to reach 600. (Israel Hayom) Staff
Gaza rockets ‘proof’ that withdrawals bound to fail, Erdan tells US diplomats
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan Sunday told visiting American diplomats that the current rockets attacks from Gaza on Israel proved the failure of any strategy that includes territorial withdrawals.
“The current situation in Gaza is proof of the failure of the approach calling for Israeli withdrawals. If we relinquish full control of Judea and Samaria, Judea and Samaria will become Gaza and rockets will then be launched at the State of Israel,” he said, using a Biblical term to describe the West Bank.
Erdan was alluding to Israel’s 2005 Gaza Disengagement, when it uprooted thousands of settlers from the Strip and pulled out Israeli forces.
In 2007, the Hamas terror group which calls for Israel’s destruction, ousted the Palestinian Authority from Gaza in a bloody coup and has ruled there ever since.
Over the last two days, Gaza terrorists have fired more than 600 rockets into Israel, killing 4 people and wounding at least 10. The air force has responded with dozens of raids on terror infrastructure in Gaza.
The US administration is expected to release its comprehensive proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace next month. Its authors have repeatedly said that the plan will stress Israeli security arrangements. It is not clear whether it will entail calls for Israeli territorial withdrawals.
Erdan, a member of the security cabinet, was briefing a group of seven US ambassadors to European countries, as well as US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism Elan Carr, in his Jerusalem office.
The group came to Jerusalem this week after attending the March of the Living in Poland during Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday.
Erdan, who also serves as strategic affairs minister and as such is also responsible for Israel’s fight against the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, briefed the US officials on what he claims is the European funding for “boycott and delegitimization organizations in Israel,” according to a readout provided by his office.
“We must ensure that the United States examines the BDS organizations that have connections to terrorist elements,” he said.
Erdan said he asked US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to examine the activity of the BDS National Committee’s activity in America, saying he had “evidence showing they maintain contact with internationally-recognized terrorist organizations.”
In January, Erdan’s office published an in-depth report accusing the European Union of funding organizations that support BDS organizations to the tune of millions. At the time, the EU responded by saying that it opposes BDS, but will defend freedom of speech.
“We must ensure that EU funds do not reach boycott organizations hiding behind human rights organizations when human rights are the last thing that interests them,” Erdan told the US officials on Sunday, urging them to “persuade European governments to stop funding for boycott and delegitimization organizations.”
Headed by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the delegation consisted of the American envoys to the EU, Germany, Portugal, France, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. (the Times of Israel) Raphael Ahren
Prominent Saudi Intellectuals and Journalists Support Israel, Slam Hamas, Blame Iran for Latest Gaza Violence
Several prominent Saudi journalists and intellectuals expressed support for Israel during the latest Gaza flare-up last weekend, and blamed Iran for the outbreak in hostilities.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at southern Israel over a two-day span, nearly provoking an all-out war. Israel responded with retaliatory air strikes and assassinated a top Hamas commander who was reportedly a conduit for Iranian funds. A ceasefire went into effect early Monday morning.
According to translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), prominent Saudi intellectual Dr. Turki Al-Hamad blamed the violence on Iran and Turkey, both regional rivals of Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a repeating loop: rockets [are fired] from Gaza into Israel, Israel bombs [Gaza], someone or other mediates, the fighting stops — and the common Palestinian folks pay the price,” he wrote. “This is ‘resistance,’ my friend. Iran and Turkey are in trouble, and the Palestinians are paying the price.”
Another Saudi, Mut’ab Al-Jabrin, responded to Al-Hamad with an attack on Hamas, saying, “Since the Hamas coup and its takeover of Gaza, the [Gaza] Strip has been suffering mismanagement which has caused [its residents] to lose even the most basic services, [namely] power and water.”
“[All this is] due to the foolish policy of Hamas, which does nothing but fire a few rockets that fall even before they reach their target, and which achieve no balance [of power] and exert no political pressure,” he added. “It ends with Israeli strikes that destroy the Gaza Strip’s infrastructures.”
Saudi journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh, of the Al-Jazirah newspaper (not the Qatari news network), explicitly blamed Iran for the violence, writing, “The Persian ayatollahs have instructed their servants, Hamas, to escalate [the conflict] with Israel, and they obeyed. The result is seven Palestinians dead, versus one Israeli wounded.”
Four Israelis were in fact killed by the Hamas rockets.
Referencing US President Donald Trump’s continuing campaign to put more sanctions on Iran, Al-Sheikh said, “The Persians are tightening the pressure on the US and Israel in retaliation for Trump’s decision, and the victims are the people of Gaza.”
Saudi intellectual and former director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, wrote strongly in support of Israel and also blamed Iran, writing to Israelis, “Our hearts are with you. May Allah protect Israel and its people.”
“We will not let the treacherous hand of Iran and its agents in Gaza reach the Israeli people,” he added.
“It’s time to say this out loud: confronting the terror of Hamas is the responsibility of all the countries in the region and of the international community [as a whole], not only of Israel,” Al-Hakim asserted. “I say to the Arabs…: Do you want these murderers and agents of Iran to rule Jerusalem?!” (the Algemeiner) Benjamin Kerstein
Iranian plot against U.S. possibly thwarted due to Israeli intelligence
The United States received information from Israel concerning an alleged Iranian plot to attack American interests in the Gulf, Axios reported on Monday.
National Security advisor John Bolton publicly warned on Sunday that Iran will face “unrelenting force” if it attempts to harm the US, in an unusual statement.
In the same statement the US announced that it would deploy the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln to the region.
According to the report, intelligence provided by Israel’s Mossad agency was at least part of the reason for the warning and the move to deploy the aircraft carrier. The information was allegedly passed to a U.S. team headed by Bolton two weeks ago by an Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.
It wasn’t clear what Iran’s plans would have been, but it might have attempted to hit a US target in the Gulf, or one of its allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia or UAE.
Saying that “Iranian temperature is rising” due to US sanctions, an unnamed Israeli official said Iran is looking into attacking US interests in the Gulf. (Jerusalem Post) Hagay Hacohen
The next round will probably be worse
The defense and security establishment believes that deterrence has been restored, but not fully, and that if no political understandings are reached, it is only a matter of time until the next escalation.
by Lilach Shoval Israel Hayom
The prevailing assessment in the defense and security establishment is that while Israel has restored deterrence against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip for the short-term, in the absence of any advancement toward a long-term peace deal, the calm that was restored on Monday will not hold for more than a few weeks.
Although no Israeli officials are saying so, Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism and Independence Day – as well as next week’s Eurovision pop song extravaganza – were main considerations in Israel’s decision to hold back, and the defense establishment was working under instructions not to cross any retaliatory lines that might worsen the escalation.
In the past few weeks, the Gaza Brigade has been operating under warnings that the Islamic Jihad might execute a potential large-scale terrorist attack near the border fence. Defense officials think that this rogue group wanted to take advantage of the days leading up to Eurovision and ruin the international event.
The incident that set off the recent few days of intense conflict took place on Friday, when Islamic Jihad sniper fire wounded an IDF officer and a female soldier. In response, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi decided to dial up the Israeli response and attack a manned Hamas outpost that was not on the border itself. This prompted the organization to respond in an “eye for an eye” manner.
It appears that Hamas wanted a response that was more limited in scope, such as a sniper attack or firing an anti-tank missile, but the Islamic Jihad – which does not always obey Hamas – starting firing on Israel without coordinating with Hamas. Following the Israeli response to the rocket fire, in which the IDF attacked Hamas as well as the Islamic Jihad, Hamas decided to fire its own rockets – heavy barrages for every major Israeli retaliatory strike.
That is how some 690 rockets and mortars wound up being launched at Israel in under 48 hours. Actually, the number is higher, because not all the rockets that were fired made it over the border fence. Most of them landed in unpopulated areas, and some 240 were intercepted by Israel’s air defenses. The soldiers who operate those systems displayed impressive capabilities, but a few dozen still landed in populated areas, killing four Israelis, wounding many others, and causing considerable damage.
This time, the terrorist organizations were using more firepower and rockets that had a range of up to 40 kilometers, as well as the new Badr model, which carries a heavy load of explosives. These rockets are not high quality, and the ones that made it over the border were intercepted by Israel’s air defense troops. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were warned not to fire at the greater Tel Aviv area to avoid an especially harsh Israeli response that could drag both sides into a full-scale conflict.
Israeli officials think that Hamas wanted an immediate cease-fire so it can get back to working on an agreement that will improve the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza, but the defense establishment wanted to go far enough so Islamic Jihad wouldn’t want to escalate things with Israel, either.
Of the 350 or so retaliatory strikes the IDF carried out in Gaza, more aggressively than in the past, a few dozens were aimed at Islamic Jihad targets. In effect, the 29 casualties in Gaza included 10 Islamic Jihad operatives. The defense establishment says that the purpose was to “bend” the terrorist group, but not break it.
This time, Israel used tools it has not taken out of its belt for a while, including the first targeted killing in years. Actually, there were two – one was a money changer who played a major role in bringing Iranian funds to Gaza terrorist organizations, and the second was a Hamas drone operator.
No one in Israel is promising that the latest round brought calm that will last more than a few weeks, but the reigning belief is that the risk of Islamic Jihad firing on Tel Aviv during the Eurovision has dropped, if not disappeared. The IDF thinks that it must maintain and increase deterrence when it comes to the rogue group.
Israel is also refusing to disclose the details of the cease-fire agreement with Hamas, but apparently, it did not include any new benefits. As of 4:30 a.m. Monday, both sides stopped firing.
Either way, if no political understandings are reached, it’s only a question of time when we’ll see the next round of escalation, and it won’t be very long before it happens. Battles like this start again from where they left off, so it’s likely that the next escalation will be even more violent.
IDF objectives reached but Gaza still a major threat
Israel stood strong in the face of Hamas pressure, and resisted a ceasefire, under adverse conditions; a lesson Hamas will remember before renewing fire the next time its demands are not immediately met
by Ron Ben Yishai Ynet News
This round of fighting ended, for the first time since the 2014 conflict with Gaza, with Israel achieving its objectives.
This is evident by the fact that Hamas begged for a ceasefire, for a full 24 hours, before Israel agreed to one. This will be one lessoned well remembered, by the Palestinian factions.
The Israeli objective in this round was to reinstate Israel’s deterrence in the eyes of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. It appears this objective was achieved.
- Hamas needed a ceasefire in place before the start of Ramadan and that, was the catalyst for an agreement, and not any Israeli need to protect the Eurovision song contest.
- Israel preserved the legitimacy of its actions in Gaza by targeting military objectives even when bombing homes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad commanders.
- The political and military arms in Israel worked in complete unison and without leaking to the media, in stark contradiction to earlier rounds of fighting.
Deterrence is a fleeting commodity. It can only be tested over time and it would be wrong to assume Israel’s problems from Gaza are over, but it seems Israel’s military may have weakened some of the appetite, on the part of the terrorists, to resume shelling in a matter of weeks.
In this round of fighting, the IDF came prepared with a list of high-quality targets. It also had a planned schedule of escalation, to respond to the militants’ actions, including attacking their cyber capabilities and hitting their attack drones. Some of IDF’s actions are still under wraps.
It is safe to say the IDF was in control of the pace and extent of the escalation of fighting. That gave the IDF the upper hand in dictating events. But there was also a preparedness to pinpoint targets with lethal force. Military commanders did not hesitate to hit terror leaders and their immediate surroundings.
There had been criticism of the IDF in the past, for bombing empty buildings and bases and avoiding causing fatalities. This time it appears, any restrictions the IDF may have operated under, were lifted.
The fact that the Israeli air force targeted the homes of terror commanders, was also a factor in Israel’s superiority, at the end of this last round. Though the commanders themselves, were underground, and their families were given ample time to escape, the homes, themselves, were considered by Israel, military targets. This was evident for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to see, and making the terrorists and their families, homeless, was considered an added bonus.
Israel also changed its earlier tactic, this time around, by targeting Islamic Jihad militants regardless of how Hamas might react. The Iranian backed organization payed a heavy price, sending a clear message to its leadership.
Israel on its part should have evacuated residents from border settlements, to safety. Civilian movement should have been restricted, to prevent casualties. There is no shame in these steps. Lives could have been saved.
More Iron Dome batteries should have been deployed. The terrorists fired scores of rockets at once, which ensured some would make it through the defense system, resulting in direct hits and civilian casualties.
And finally, it must be said that even if a deterrence has been restored, to some degree, the Gaza situation is set to blow up in our faces if it is not addressed.
Hamas must be removed and replaced by a leadership focused on its people’s needs and not obsessed with the destruction of Israel and this remains the ultimate objective that must be achieved.
Hamas Boasts It Overcame Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defenses with Concentrated Rocket Salvos. It Didn’t – Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
While Hamas and Islamic Jihad attempted to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome by firing numerous rockets at a specific location, comparatively few rockets actually succeeded in penetrating the system, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
In one case, over the course of one hour on Sunday evening, at least 117 rockets were fired at the city of Ashdod, but only one made it past Israel’s air defenses.
Maj. Tom Scott, a commander at an Iron Dome battery in southern Israel, said the missile defense system is capable of intercepting “many different threats,” including “large barrages or short-range rockets or rockets fired at high altitude or at low altitude.”
While Iron Dome is not impenetrable, in the latest round the system had an 86% success rate – similar to previous rounds of intensive rocket fire.
Scott noted that the Iron Dome’s radars successfully spotted every rocket and mortar launch, which ensured that Israelis were warned of incoming projectiles ahead of time by sirens.