Thursday, 15 November 2012

Israel Under Attack

To say that it's been a busy twenty-four hours or so, would be somewhat of an understatement. 

Nationally, Israel, facing an ever-growing threat of rockets to an ever-increasing number of its population, has decided that enough is enough and targeted the leader of the military wing of Hamas. Alongside the targeted hit, several other targets have been destroyed in Gaza by the Israeli Air Force. These targets housed missiles, long-range Fajr5 missiles, capable of hitting Tel Aviv from Gaza. Not wanting to name names or apportion blame on the innocent, but Fajr5 missiles are the product of our friends in Iran. 

The hit

Just as a point of reference, Ahmad Jaabari, the top level commander of the Hamas who was killed by Israel, has more than a short record of terror. Amongst many other lesser known crimes, he was instrumental in the capture and imprisonment of Gilad Shalit (whose human rights were ignored by the world for five years), as well as being responsible either directly or indirectly for the hundreds of missiles that have been fired into Israel over the past few years. 

The world wakes up

Internationally, Israel has faced reaction that has varied in scale, intensity and attitude. The UN, along with its leader Ban Ki-Moon, yes, the very same who expressed his relief that "justice had been done" when the USA hit Mr Bin Laden (of blessed and watery memory), was a little more reserved when it came to yesterday's news. No press release has been forthcoming and no sigh of relief heard or expressed, although an emergency meeting of the Security Council (UNSC) has been called to discuss "Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip." It took one direct hit from Israel on a known arch-terrorist to kick the UNSC into gear. 150 missiles in four days into Israel from Gaza terrorists is clearly just not bad enough. 

The US State Department has finally issued a strong statement condemning rocket attacks on Israel and supporting Israel's right to defend itself. No other country in the world needs outside support for this right, but it's nice to hear nonetheless. 

The UK, my old stomping ground, is still stomping, calling for restraint from both sides on the Foreign Office's twitter feed. They seemed to keep fairly quiet in the days leading up to this escalation. The FCO does wax lyrical on the situation in Gaza, urging Israel to end restrictions. No such lyrics appear to ask Hamas to end the rocket attacks. 

The Arab world, those beautiful, peace-loving people who have done so little to help their slaughtered brethren in Syria, have suddenly woken up to the plight of their other brethren; but only because it suits their common cause - the hatred of the Zionist entity. Thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians have died in Syria. Many more are left homeless, refugees, scared, maimed, and tortured. Executions are a daily occurrence. No flotilla has been forthcoming. No international outcry of condemnation from the Arab League. No calls for the Security Council to meet. One dead arch-terrorist and pinpoint strikes on weapon caches later, and guess who's joined the party? It'd be funny if it wasn't so obviously tragic. 


Personally, I have seen that having discussions with open-minded people on what can be loosely termed the left-wing, is nigh on impossible. Twitter is a wonderful place for such exchanges. So far, I have been blocked by one leading anti-Israel gentleman, the infamous Ben White (@benabyad). My exchange with him ended when I asked him if he condones rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. It was a civilised exchange but came to an abrupt halt at this question. No answer was forthcoming and it took me a little while to realise that I could no longer see his tweets. Lucky I have two twitter accounts.

Another exchange was with a young lady in South Africa (@tehillahnis) who couldn't see the difference between celebrating death and demonstrating for peace. I can only presume she fell asleep mid-conversation, or got bored of making up facts that she couldn't corroborate. 

Elsewhere, multiple twitterers, many I can only presume to be part of the Arab world have called for anything ranging from the annihilation of Israel, to the return of gas chambers for Jews, to mass murder of Jews anywhere in the world. The word "genocide" has been bandied about by these same people who can't tell the difference between a direct hit Israel and a government-led massacre of its own people by Hamas or Syria. You choose. 

A game of numbers?

In the meantime, here are some numbers. The world loves using numbers to show the disproportional response undertaken by Israelis, claiming that only a few dead Israelis means we mustn't fight back. Few dead is thanks in no small way to several factors: The Iron Dome anti-missile defence system; Israelis following orders for a change and staying in or close to shelters; luck, or miracle, depending on your view of the world. As I write these lines, reports come in of three Israeli civilians killed in Kiryat Malachi, with four injured, including four children. I wonder how long before the BBC mentions the latter. 

Those numbers:

One million Israelis have spent the night in shelters. 

Those within 7km of Gaza have 15 seconds from the sound of a siren to find somewhere to hide. 

Those within 20km have 30 seconds. 

Those within 40km have 60 seconds. 

If the rockets reach this far, I'll have 90.

It's a sobering thought, but one that Israel, its Government and its Defense Forces, are finally trying to push out of our minds. It's going to be a tough few days ahead, particularly for those within range of the rockets, although, it seems, that even they are prepared to face up to it in the hope that this will bring some much sought-after peace and quiet. 

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